There is a lovely little restaurant in our neighborhood, called Vesta.  Their menu is “inspired by Italy”, and that inspiration yields real deliciousness.  I was there recently for Superbowl Sunday, and it turned out to be a great place to watch the game.

The special menu looked very tasty – meatballs, pizzas, sandwiches.   I asked Joe, one of the owners, about where they source their meats, because my goal this year is to eat meat that is pastured and sustainably/humanely raised and avoid CAFO or factory farmed meat.  It’s a real challenge – suffice it to say, I’ve eaten a lot of meatless meals when I’ve gone out.

Joe was so accommodating in telling me the details of their meat sources – and I’m happy to say, it’s good sourcing!  I ended up choosing the thin-thin pizza with Long Island duck, wild mushrooms, and goat cheese.  It was delicious.  One of the wines we had was also really interesting – it was an Italian white wine, whose grapes were recently rescued from the brink of extinction, and made into this lovely, minerally wine.  Talk about sustainability.

If you’re in Astoria, it’s worth a visit.


Vesta Trattoria and Wine Bar
21-02 30th Avenue
Astoria, NY 11102
tel. 718-545-5550

Delicious Soaked Granola


Since I’ve transitioned to eating a more traditional diet, I’ve followed the practice of soaking the whole grains I eat, which include millet, quinoa, and oats.  I soak the grains with a little bit of acid – raw cider vinegar in my case, but lemon juice, whey, or cultured dairy products will do well, too.

Now, why do I do this?

Whole grains contain phytic acid, which negatively affects digestion and absorption of minerals.  Phytic acid, sometimes considered an “anti-nutrient”, is present in the bran and shells of all seeds and grains.  It combines with  minerals such as zinc, calcium, magnesium, and iron, and as a result these minerals are unable to be absorbed properly in the digestive tract.  When you soak the grains (or ferment or sprout them), it neutralizes the phytic acid, and the gut can digest the grains and absorb their nutrition properly.

As I see it, soaking is a good thing.


Breakfast is my very favorite meal of the day.  I love waking up after a long fast (8 hours or so of sleep) and being hungry, looking forward to eating.  I grew up eating conventional breakfast cereal, so cereal is still a normal thing for me to eat in the mornings, and it’s not something I want to give up.  I gladly eat oatmeal, but wanted to have some cold cereal on hand, especially in the summer when it’s hot.  The conventional cereals are full of unappealing ingredients, overly processed, plus the grains are not soaked.  What to do?

I’ve always loved granola, so I went searching the internet for a soaked granola recipe.  And I found one!  I love this recipe.  It was originally published by Lindsay of Passionate Homemaking, who modified it from this recipe.  I made a few changes, but they are minor – replacing the raisins with bits of dried apricot; sometimes leaving out the seeds.  It goes very well with cold raw milk, completing the bowl of nutrient dense food.

come together

My plan is to make this monthly, so we have a great alternative for cold cereal in our household.  Here is the recipe:

Soaked Granola

I have always made a half recipe, whose proportions are below – a whole recipe is massive. I have increased the water, as by accident I put too much in last time, and I loved the result – a crispier product. I love almonds, so I specify those, and replaced the raisins with apricots, as mentioned above. Be sure to use a high quality coconut oil that is minimally processed; I also prefer butter that is from grass-fed cows.

4 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cups kefir
1.5 cups water
1/4 cup raw honey
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried shredded coconut
1 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup chopped pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup dried apples, chopped
1/8 cup minced dried figs (optional)

Mix oats with the melted butter and oil, kefir and water in a large bowl. Cover with a cloth and/or plate and allow to sit at cool room temperature for 24 hours. After the soaking time, preheat the oven to 200° F.

Place honey, maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla in a small pot on the stove. Gently warm up this mixture, stirring until honey becomes thin.

Combine sweeteners and oat mixtures, mixing to incorporate.

Spread mixture out over two parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Bake for 2-4 hours, until granola is dry and crisp.  Allow to cool in oven before removing to a container.  It will get crisper at it cools.

Mix in coconut, apricots, pumpkin seeds, apples and nuts, as desired.  Store in an airtight container.  Serve with chilled raw milk.

Makes 2.5 quarts.

Harmonious Belly

beets, glorious beets

Welcome to my new project, Harmonious Belly.  You can read more about the ideas behind it, as well as the blogger behind it, on the About page.

I don’t have much else to say right now that won’t be redundant, so I’ll just say that I hope you enjoy the blog as much as I look forward to writing it.

P.S. I love beets, so I’m more than pleased to start this blog off with a picture of some beautiful beets that came from my CSA a couple of years ago.  More on that later.