Melissa Costello

Author Archives: Melissa Costello

Apricot Tea Muffins – Gluten Free


  • 1-1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free all purpose baking flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg



  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup only fruit apricot fruit spread
  • 1/3 cup Agave Nectar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • Ener-G Egg Replacer for 2 eggs (whisked with warm water)
  • 1/2 c. dried apricots, chopped


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-muffin tin.

Beat with a wooden spoon to incorporate (or use a mixer). When the batter is smooth and slightly sticky add in the chopped apricots and stir to combine. Place the batter into the muffin cups. Smooth tops.

Bake in the center of a preheated oven till firm- about 18 to 20 minutes (test with a wooden pick). Place the muffin pan on a rack to cool slightly. Remove the muffins and continue cooling on a wire rack to avoid sogginess.

Karma Chow Veggie Burgers


  • 1 can chickpeas, drained & rinsed
  • 3/4 c. cooked brown rice
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, deseeded & cut into chunks
  • 1 c. spinach
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 1/2 red or yellow onion, cut in chunks
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1-1/2 to 2 c. gluten free bread crumbs
  • 2 TBS Tomato paste or unsweetened ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

Using a food processor, blend pepper, onion, spinach & cilantro until all mixed together and somewhat liquidy. Pour into a medium bowl.

In food processor, separately pulse brown rice & chick peas together then add to bowl containing veggie mixture.

Add chili powder, tomato paste & sea salt and stir together to mix well. Add bread crumbs and combine until burgers stick together. If the burgers feel too wet, add more bread crumbs.

Form into patties and cook on a skillet with coconut oil on the bottom of the pan over medium heat until browned on both sides.

Serve on an Ezekial Sprouted grain roll with Avocado, Agave Ketchup, Lettuce, Onion & Tomato!

August 31, 2009

Wheat Free Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

These delectable cookies are Wheat Free & Vegan!!!(if you aren’t allergic to wheat, opt for the Spelt Flour)



  • 2 c. Oat or Spelt Flour
  • 3/4 c. Rolled Oats
  • 1/2 c. chopped Walnuts (optional)
  • 1 c. Grain Sweetened Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 3/4 tsp. Baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp Cinnamon
  • 2/3 c. Agave Nectar
  • 2/3 c. Grapeseed Oil
  • 2 TBL Water or Almond Milk
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla or Almond Extract Extract

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

Place dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine.

Combine wet ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk together. Add wet mixture to dry and stir well with a wooden spoon. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Place by the tablespoon on a baking sheet lined with Parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

August 17, 2009

Stepping into the Unknown – Day 13

Yesterday Daniel and I went to see the Time Traveler’s Wife. It’s one of my favorite books, so I knew I had to see the movie. Daniel so kindly obliged me. We really enjoyed the movie and it sparked a lot of emotion in us. If you don’t know the plot, the movie is based on a man who travels through time and how his time travel causes challenges in the day to day life of him & his wife. It was all about the unknown, but also the known, since he gets to go forward and see things in the future.

After the movie Daniel asked me if I could go back in time to my younger self and tell myself some really important things that I should know today, what would they be? It took me a while to come up with an answer, as I don’t feel that I have many regrets in my life and I didn’t want to change anything that would make me a different person today. I feel that regrets are a waste of energy and mind space, but the one strong thought that came to me was to tell myself not to be so afraid of the “Unknown”.

For so many years as I was growing into an adult I had so many fears about what lay ahead and NOT KNOWING what lay ahead. These fears stopped me from doing many things like traveling, visiting new places, seeing friends across the country, moving, quitting a job, etc, etc. I’m sure you get the picture. Over the years, I have learned to let go more and more and even though I still fear the unknown, I KNOW that I have to step into it every day. And when I do step into it, so many beautiful and wonderful events happen. I grow and change, I become a better person and I get to experience life instead of hiding from it! That’s how I came to move to California from good old Lawrenceville, New Jersey over 12 years ago. I was scared to death, but I knew from the tender age of 12 that I would one day live in California and enjoy the lifestyle that so many healthy Californians live. 

This cleanse has brought up a lot of “unknown” for me. Especially since I have suffered from an eating disorder off and on, which will always be looming in the lurches. It’s been laying dormant now for a while, but I know it’s there at any moment to bare it’s teeth whenever I am feeling low, lonely or stressed. Not being able to eat all the fresh fruit I want is challenging. Not being able to eat my staple Greens + bars is challenging. Not knowing how I am going to come off the cleanse is challenging. Will I overeat? Will I go crazy? All of these things are making me dig deep every day to find that place of safety know I will be ok. I am stepping into the unknown every day, yet I also realize that we are ALL stepping into the Unknown every moment. We can make a plan and set goals, yes, but every moment is still unknown until you are in it. I love that Woody Allen saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans”. Yet I also realize that I am the one creating my destiny and I get to choose. I get to choose the fear, the happiness, the pain, the love…all of it. I get to step into the unknown and create new moments for myself. I get to experience whatever happens in that moment, and if it’s hard or uncomfortable I get to stand front and center with ME and make a positive choice for myself.

So, what I am trying to say is I think that most of us are afraid of the unknown, but we can’t stop living because of this. We need to move forward and to have experiences that are rich and that make a difference. We need to take care of ourselves by eating healthy and exercising. We need to have a spiritual practice of some sort that will keep us grounded when we are floating. We need to have good friends, lots of love in our life and people who show up and support us!

Do you have those things? If not, are you willing to step into the unknown to find them???

Pensively yours,
The Ambivalent Cleanser!

Day 10 and Going Strong..well, Maybe!

Today is day 10 and I am feeling really good, albeit very tired. I haven’t been doing much exercise on this cleanse, and I know that’s not totally good, but my body is whooped. I get so tired just walking up a flight of stairs or cruising on the strand with Miss Sadie (my darling pit bull). There are a lot of toxins being released and a lots of little guys sweeping up inside, so I need to be gentle with myself. I know that I need to just take it easy and take it day by day. Maybe one day I will wake up with a boat-load of energy and go for a run!! wow, that would be a miracle!

It’s been a very mellow week for me work-wise, which has been quite a blessing. Summer is a little slow for Karma Chow due to so many of my clients traveling with their families. I am gearing up for September to kick in and to head back to Colorado for a Healthy Table “ITALIAN FOOD” Event on the 26th! I will post the information for this class on Facebook if you are in the CO/Denver area! I am also going to be hosting a Candida Cooking Class on September 10th in LA, so check out the event page on my site to get updates!

Anyway, I am at a loss as to what to cook lately. I am feeling bored with what we are eating. I asked Daniel if he felt bored with the food, and he said “no”, so I guess it’s alright. It’s just that my options are SO limited and I am searching my cookbooks for new ideas and ways I can substitute certain foods for the recipes I find with “Candida Friendly” foods. It proves to be a bit challenging. I am ready to give up and say….well, you know.

I did this cleanse before and I am having all those memories flood back in when I eat the food and taste the same tastes that I did a few years back. Honestly, it’s making me not want to eat at all!!! Did you ever smell something or taste something that took you right back to a time in your childhood and you can feel and see that memory so vividly? I think they are called Associative memories?? Well anyway, that’s what’s happening with me. I am not liking it, but I know that I am doing this for my health and I need to push through. I tell you what, if Daniel wasn’t by my side doing this with me, I would’ve given up after 1 week. I want my Peanut Butter High Protein Greens + bar. Yes, I’m still craving those darn things! Can you believe it? It’s more of a texture thing now. There is nothing gooey, creamy, dreamy and delectably sweet on this cleanse, it’s straight veggies, grains and protein from animal sources. I have a hard time eating anything with a face, as I mentioned in a previous blog! But, I can handle the eggs from time to time, so I am going to stick to what works. And although I am still craving something sweet and gooey, I know that will pass over time, so I just have to hang in there. Even just one bite of my Raw Vegan “Cheeze”cake!! PLEASE!!!

Anyway, back to cooking. I have a spaghetti squash in the oven right now baking and it’s smells so good! When it’s done I am going to scrape it out and saute it in a pan with coconut oil, shallots, cinnamon and cardamom. I think it will be like having dessert! I am so excited. I am also going to make some green beans and am hoping to spice them up Indian style, but since I can’t use coconut milk or coconut, I’m not sure if just cumin or curry will cut it. I guess I will have to play around and experiment.

If you haven’t already noticed, I am addicted to shallots. These little garlic/onion hybrids are oh so sweet when you saute them up! I also put them in salad dressing and they give off such an amazing flavor that isn’t as biting as garlic and a little sweeter than onion. I must put them in everything; scrambled eggs, green bean salad, lemon vinaigrette, cole slaw. You name it, they are in there. I think it’s a bit of an addiction, but not the type of Greens + Bar addiction, it’s a much healthier one!

Today I really wanted to taste coffee, again! What is it with me and the flavor of coffee? My mouth is watering as I write this. I even went into Whole foods and picked up a jar of water processed, organic DECAF, fairtrade coffee and thought..hmmmm…could I do it? And then I thought, NO WAY! I would just set myself back and not because of the caffeine, but because of the flavor… Just tasting it and swirling it’s earthy goodness in my mouth would leave me wanting MORE and would put me on that slippery slope!!! And, Daniel and I really need to stay off it for a while….maybe not forever, but we are committed to staying caffeine clean for hopefully a long time.

We have both realized how depleted our Adrenal glands are and that is the reason why we have are lacking the natural energy right now. We have been on the caffeine kick for so long, we’ve worked our adrenals to the bone and now we need to rebuild them to get back our natural vitality that is our birthright!! I know it will come, but sometimes it’s hard to fathom that I will ever have energy without my morning cup. Daniel went for a run yesterday totally caffeine-free and he said he struggled immensely. It was a huge wake up call for him and he got to feel how depleted he has become. I think it even scared him a bit to not have his good old buddy Red Bull to pull him through! He had to rely completely on himself and who he was in the present, even though the guy running with him had just had a redbull and vodka..go figure! But I asked him, “Don’t you want to live a lot longer and be healthier than that guy???” I think he got it.

Ok, well I think my squash is almost done. I can smell the sweetness. I am going to go give it the fork prick to test it’s tenderness. I hope it doesn’t get mad at me! All in all, I am feeling really good and happy I am doing this. There are times I am not so happy, but I can’t imagine going back to my old ways, even though I did open the kitchen drawer and saw a menu for Pizza Fusion, which is a NEW organic pizzeria that just opened here in LA. They offer gluten free crust and dairy free cheese on their pizzas…TORTURE!!! Maybe someday…I will dream about it but until then….

As promised, here is the recipe for the Almond Mayo compliments of Donna Gates and The Body Ecology Diet Book

1/2 cup Raw Almonds
1/2 c to 3/4 c filtered water
1/4 tsp. garlic or onion powder (or 1 raw clove garlic, minced)
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1 c. organic, unrefined flax or pumpkin seed oil
3 Tbsp. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1/2 tsp. raw, organic apple cider vinegar

Cover almonds with boiling water. Allow to cool slightly and then slip off skins.
Place almonds in a blender or food processor and grind to a fine powder. Add half the water along with garlic/onion powder and sea salt. Blend well, then add remaining water to form a smooth cream.
With blender running on low, drizzle in the oil in a thin stream from the top until mixture is thick. Keep blender running and add lemon juice & vinegar. Blend on low 1 minute longer to allow mixture to thicken.
Scrape into a jar with a screw top or tightly fitting lid and refrigerate.
This mixture will keep for 10 days to 2 weeks.

Enjoy! This is great to mix into Cole Slaw or Red Bliss Potato salad, or just use as a dip!

Yours in health,
The Ambivalent Cleanser

Arugula & Watermelon Salad w/ Feta Cheese

This light and tasty salad will be a refreshing hit at any BBQ or Picnic!



  • 2 c. Watermelon cut in small chunks
  • 1 bunch/pkg. Arugula
  • 2 TBL. Goat Milk Feta, crumbled
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 small fennel bulb, sliced thin
  • 2 TBL Toasted Pumpkin Seeds



  • Juice from one Lemon
  • 1 part Olive Oil
  • 2 parts Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Agave Nectar
  • 1 TBL Dijon Mustard

Put Arugula in a salad bowl and top with remaining ingredients.

Combine dressing ingredients together in a shaker bottle. Shake to combine and drizzle over salad. Toss lightly.

July 25, 2009

Just Because You Are Vegetarian Doesn’t Mean You’re Healthy!!

To many of us, Vegetarianism is a mystery. Becoming a vegetarian is usually a choice that people make for health reasons, ethical reasons or environmental reasons. But most vegetarians and not particularly healthy, per se.

Being a vegetarian takes work. It takes commitment. It takes dedication and it also takes creativity and knowledge. It’s easy to be an unhealthy vegetarian, but most people have no idea that they are being unhealthy. The reason is usually due to lack of knowledge. If you go to any grocery store today, there is an array of supposedly “healthy” vegetarian foods, but most of these foods are over processed and contain high amounts of soy, gluten, sodium and other ingredients that wreak havoc on our digestive system.

There are many types of vegetarians according to today’s society. But I believe that a true & healthy vegetarian is a person who eats a diet consisting of unprocssed whole foods. Whole foods are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, healthy fats and the occasional egg. If you think you are doing your body good by becoming a vegetarian while still eating cheese, yogurt, any kind of dairy, white flour, white sugar and processed “vegetarian” foods, you aren’t. You might as well still eat meat and chicken for that matter. Those choices are better than most of the heart clogging, high cholesterol cheeses and yogurts or the acidifying processed foods that will cause heart disease and a whole other ilk of health problems down the line.

If it’s an ethical issue to you, and you don’t care about health, than so be it. Yet anyone who does not care about their health and what they put in their mouth is looking for trouble in the long term. Your body is a temple and the only one you have while you are here. It’s important that you treat it with respect so that it works optimally to assist you in a long, happy and healthy life.

Ok, let’s talk about the different kinds of “vegetarians” (remember, a true vegetarian does not eat any animal flesh at all). A vegan on the other hand, eats absolutely NO animal products including eggs, honey, white sugar & dairy.

Vegetarian: Eats a plant based diet and does not eat red meat, chicken, pork or any other meat from an animal
Pescetarian: A vegetarian who eats fish
Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian: A vegetarian who eats dairy & eggs
Flexitarian (this is a newer type of Vegetarian): one who is a vegetarian but will occasionally eat fish or chicken
Total Vegetarian: does not eat any animal products including eggs, dairy, honey and sometime white sugar (some white sugar is processed with the ash of cow bones so it is not considered vegetarian)
Vegan: Eliminates all animal products from their life even clothing & shoes made from leather, wool or silk.

As I said earlier, many vegetarians can be extremely unhealthy and sometimes it takes a lot of planning to have this type of lifestyle. Eating pizza, nachos, or any other greasy foods that don’t contain meat is not the path to being a healthy vegetarian. Yes, sometimes those foods are easy to grab on the go, but these foods will leave you feeling bloated & tired, along with an array of other possible health problems. And, you will not get the necessary nutrients you need for your body as you would from eating whole foods.

If you are thinking about becoming a vegetarian or already are one, please remember that what you put into your mouth is the most important thing you can do for your body other than exercise. Be mindful of your choices. Eat lots of fresh veggies and fruit. Eat minimal amounts of processed foods. Take baby steps. Cut out one unhealthy food per week and add in a healthy one. If you are used to the Soy chicken nuggets or the frozen pizza from the freezer section, I urge you to rethink those choices and choose foods that are minimally processed. Make time each week to plan your meals.

Remember, having a healthy lifestyle takes work. It’s an investment in your health. You are worth the effort and commitment it takes to be healthy. Before you know it, it will become old hat and you will be feeling and looking better than you ever have in your life! The key to your success is Baby Steps! Have fun!!!

July 17, 2009

Who Cares How You Look or What You Do ~ Are you HAPPY??

So many of us live a life that is filled with work, errands, to-do’s, emails, etc. The list goes on and on. Sometimes I wonder if there is ever enough time to get it all done. Why is there always something to do? A list of “things” that seem to keep us from enjoying our daily lives?

Is there time to be happy with all these things that we have to do on a day-to-day basis?? Will our To-Do Lists ever be fully crossed off? And if they are, will we finally be happy & fulfilled?? Or we will look for more things to do and keep us distracted from the present moment?? To fill up the empty space inside that is unhappiness.

We exercise hard so we can look & feel good. We eat healthy or check out the latest diet craze to help us lose weight so that we can feel better and look better. We think we’ll be happier when we reach some future goal, lose that final 10 pounds or get some better job, better computer, car or phone.

But, the question is, do all these things really make us happy?

There are millions of ways to distract ourselves from life, real life ~ the present moment. When I say real life, what I mean is our passion & our purpose. What we are here to do. Why we are here living on this Earth in human form. I don’t mean to make mockery of a life filled of to-do lists and emails, but I want you to think for a second if you are happy. Are you really happy? Do you feel joyous inside? Do you feel like you have a purpose and a mission? What would you do and how far would you push yourself to find that purpose or fulfill that mission? Would you quit your day job to pursue a life of creativity, philanthropy or writing?

Over the years as I struggled to find my calling, I dipped my toes into many different small ponds. The pond of the Hospitality industry, the pond of TV commercials, the pond of teaching yoga, the pond of… well, you get the picture…but after time, I realized that all these different ponds just didn’t make me happy. What I also realized was, that each one I didn’t enjoy brought me closer to the big ocean that was my calling and passion. I knew that I was passionate about health, fitness, food, teaching people how to be better and feel better, but I didn’t know how to bring it all together in a way that would fulfill my soul. I always thought these were just “things” in my life that I enjoyed but had to keep to myself.

I was tired of working for other people. Tired of building other people’s businesses, when all I wanted to do was work for myself. I wanted the flexibility of having my own business. To work when I wanted, not when I was told. I wanted more quality time with my friends and loved ones. I didn’t want to have my head buried at a desk behind a computer while life was happening outside. I wanted to participate. To be part of the solution, to feel my heart sing, to teach others how to feel better, eat better, make positive changes for themselves so they could get closer to their dreams and goals; their happy place. 

I’m not saying that I feel happy everyday, but I am truly happy doing what I love and knowing that I am helping others to be better in their life. I feel a sense of freedom, a sense of belonging in a world that can feel so alone and empty at times. I get to connect with amazing people every day and help them to become better.

So, what is it that makes you happy? What is the message you want to spread? Isn’t it time you found out? Isn’t it about time you follow your passion? Find your calling? Maybe your calling is to be the best parent to your children, or the best friend to your friends. It doesn’t mean that your calling is what you do for work, or your career. Your calling is the thing that you feel most passionate about that truly lights you up inside and makes you want to share it with the world!

Remember, life is too short to sell out on yourself and not experience the true happiness that comes from doing what you love! Make a difference for YOU first, and all else will fall in place! Write a list of the things you love to do. Figure out ways you can do them. Take Baby Steps. Remember that small steps toward a greater goal are the key to success. Have your purpose, make your plan and put it into action!!

If you are following your dreams, your to-do lists will feel like a walk in the park. You will jump at the chance to cross things off your list. You will feel success in your accomplishments and joy in your heart. And that is true happiness!

Wild Rice & Wheat Berry Salad w/ Red Grapes & Ruby Grapefruit Dressing


  • ½ c. wild rice, rinsed½ c. Spelt berries or wheat berries
  • Sea Salt
  • ½ c. chopped red onion
  • ¼ c. fresh chives or scallions
  • 1 c. Organic Red Grapes, halved or dried unsweetened, Cranberries
  • ¼ c. chopped walnuts or pecans



  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • Juice from 1 Ruby Red Grapefruit
  • 3 TBL lime juice
  • 2 tsp. Agave Nectar
  • 1/3 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • ¼ tsp. fresh ground pepper

Place rice and spelt or wheat berries in a saucepan and add water to cover by 2 inches. Cover, bring to boil, add pinch of sea salt. Lower heat and simmer rapidly, partially covered until grains are tender, about 30-40 minutes. Drain grains and place in a medium sized bowl.

Stir in onions, chives, walnuts or pecans & grapes

To make the dressing, combine all ingredients together in a small bowl or shaker bottle and whisk or shake to combine. Stir the dressing into the grains and let the salad sit for a few minutes to marry flavors. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Fresh Tomato, Basil & Zucchini Sauce over Brown Rice Rotelle


  • 2 TBL Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 5 Vine Ripe tomatoes or Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large or 2 small zucchini, halved and cut into 1/2″ slices
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 can Organic diced tomatoes with oregano & basil
  • 1 bunch fresh basil
  • Sea Salt & Pepper
  • 1 lb. Brown Rice Pasta (Tinkyada brand is the best)


Cook pasta according to package directions. Do not overcook.

In a large skillet heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and red onion and saute until translucent. Add Zucchini and cook for a few minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Add fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, basil and salt & pepper. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Serve immediately over Brown Rice Pasta! Top with a tiny sprinkle of Organic Parmesan Cheese.