Permaculture Goes to the White House

Food Freedom

By Seismologik

The UMass Permaculture Edible Forest Lawn has been selected as a contender for this year’s White House Campus Champions of Change Award.

Quite simply, Permaculture can address the numerous ecological and economic crises we face today by implementing design systems that work in cooperation with nature.

Our friend Ryan Harb, and his team have spent the past two years converting the lawns of UMass Amherst into permanent edible food scapes. As a result, students attending the University benefit from the abundance of nutrition dense real food grown right under their noses. This is supremely awesome, and we’re extremely proud of Ryan.

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What I Learned from Larry Gibson and why he is the kind of activist we should strive to be » PittEnvironmental

I’m an occasional author on , and if you’re concerned about a healthy planet and healthy Americans, you should read this.


What I Learned from Larry Gibson and why he is the kind of activist we should strive to be » PittEnvironmental.

Vegan Mustard/Dill Cauliflower Casserole Experiment

I tried to scour the internet for cauliflower recipes, but most of them depend on ingredients I don’t have. My fridge is barren right now, and I don’t have any cheese, milk, or vegetable broth, but I felt like cauliflower and I felt like experimenting.  Here goes.

Vegan Mustard/Dill Cauliflower Casserole


Make this while preheating the oven at 350 degrees and while thawing the frozen cauliflower.

1/2 cup water, heat until boiling in pan

once boiling, mix in 1/2 cup of nutritional yeast. heat mixture until it starts to thicken.

once thickened, remove from heat (it will thicken more) and add:

1/4 tsp Dill Weed

1 tbsp dijon mustard (I used Annie’s)

1/2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce

black pepper, to taste


Mix the following in a 9×9 casserole dish:


1 package of frozen cauliflower, thawed

1 can of Cannelloni beans

Mustard/Dill/ “cheese” sauce from above

Top with a layer of Italian breadcrumbs, and put in the oven for approximately 15 minutes.

The Verdict:

Sorry to share a recipe that is not utterly fantasmic with you, but that’s just it. I’m honest and this recipe is definitely good, especially for being something as unique as a vegan mustard dill cauliflower casserole, but it is not stellar. That being said, it is something I’d definitely make again if I was craving these flavors and it something that is worth a try at least once (especially if you are a nutritional yeast fan – I’m actually not). It is one of the only vegan cauliflower casseroles of its kind that I’ve come across, and probably my first “from scratch” creation ever.  It would probably help a LOT if your cauliflower better quality (mine was past the date, frozen, and yellow-tan ish… I really hope that was freezer burn and not spoilage). I typed this up as I was eating it, and I must say, it does actually grow on you. And if you’re not a huge mustard fan, you’ll probably still like it, because the mustard is more subtle.  So if your fridge is void of dairy products, you don’t even have vegetable broth, and you really don’t feel like eating any pasta or rice, then this is a good, very basic alternative!

Pros: this recipe is really filling, due to the beans and the nutritional yeast. I’d say if you are using this as a side dish, it makes around 5 portions. If you’re using it as a full meal, it makes around 2 or 3, depending on how hungry you are. (I eat like a ravenous beast and got 2).

Hot or cold?: It was intended to be eaten hot, but tastes great room temperature too!

power of the broken




In this extremely eloquent post, Julie Peters discusses how those trainwreck moments in your life aren’t necessarily a bad thing – how when you feel the most lost and confused, you are actually at your most powerful because you can completely remold everything about you – an opportunity that you don’t really otherwise come across:

“In pieces, in a pile on the floor, with no idea how to go forward, your expectations of the future are meaningless. Your stories about the past do not apply. You are in flux, you are changing, you are flowing in a new way, and this is an incredibly powerful opportunity to become new again: to choose how you want to put yourself back together. Confusion can be an incredible teacher—how could you ever learn if you already had it all figured out?”

This is such a good way of looking at experiences that are normally considered low points in life.  I feel like I’ve known this for a while, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be only when your whole life is falling apart.  Whenever I’m a little bit broken or burned out or frustrated I always put myself back together again by just switching some of my pieces around.  I always end up with something new – usually a new hairstyle or a bunch of new recipes made.  I’ve also kind of for a while secretly enjoyed those mini-crisis moments because it meant dropping whatever I had on my schedule (which was always far too much, which often caused the mini-crisis moments) in favor of drawing pictures and writing poetry at the park, or going on a quest for fire-engine red leggings and dying my hair.  But I could never adequately explain why I secretly enjoyed them, why I felt far more revived and powerful afterwords than an afternoon of me-time would merit.  This is why, and I think your life will be all the better if you realize and act on the power you have even when you seem the most broken.






the best and EASIEST vegan chocolate cake ever

I decided to start my first recipe post off with a bang.  This cake was my first venture into the surprisingly vast world of vegan baking, and it’s still the one I turn to the most because the ingredients are things I pretty much always have on hand, and if you bake then you likely do too.

    ...literally one of the most simple things you will ever bake
    … healthier than many other cakes because it doesn’t contain butter or eggs
… more natural than some vegan recipes, because it doesn’t call for artificial substitutes for eggs/butter

This doesn’t take many more skills than a box mix cake does, except it’s made from scratch!  Simple, light in texture but rich in flavor, and the best part is no one will ever guess it’s vegan.


Pan: 8 inch round or square cake pan

1.5 cups unbleached white flour  (King Arthur is a good brand.  I have also substituted the same amount of whole wheat flour and it still works fine and doesn’t taste any different!)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sugar (I ALWAYS use Sugar in the Raw, and recommend that you do too.  Turbinado sugar is closer to what sugar actually is – the white stuff is far too processed and refined, and I’ve always used turbinado and have had no problems.)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup cold water or chilled brewed coffee (good either way, but the flavor is richer if you go the coffee route)
2 tsp pure organic vanilla extract
2 tbsp cider vinegar


1) Preheat oven to 375. Oil the baking pan.

2) In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and sugar.

3) In another bowl, combine the oil, water or coffee, and vanilla.

4) Pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients bowl and mix until well-blended and smooth.

5) Add the vinegar and stir briefly; the baking soda will begin to react with the vinegar right away, leaving pale swirls in the batter. Without wasting any time, pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.

6) Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Also, as you’ve probably noticed, I’m a science person.  Saying 1.5 or even 1.25 is much cleaner than saying 1 1/2, and that convention will likely hold true for everything I post.

Hello world!

My first blog post!  I guess I’ll use it to introduce the blog.  To find out more about me, click my picture. To find out more about me and the blog, click About La Vita Fresca.

I decided to make a blog because I call myself a writer – or perhaps more accurately, I want to be a writer – but I don’t write all that often anymore. I figured this would be a good way to write more and to help both you (hopefully) and me on my quest to live a simple, natural, passionate, healthy, well-rounded, meaningful, sustainable, and holistic life.  You hear about the sweet life, the beautiful life, the good life… but anything that’s sweet and beautiful and good must also be fresh.  A fresh life means constantly experiencing new things and new places; appreciating the intricacies that make everyday life one continuous miracle; eating lots of delicious veggies; breathing clean air and drinking clean water; running barefoot through grass untreated by pesticides; embracing the natural state of the world, and living within it.

This is my first blog, but I assume it’s natural for the blog to mirror the writer.  If that’s true, expect to see a lot of content involving nature, traveling, stargazing, lattes, yoga, writing, permaculture, cooking, eating, hiking, science, sustainability, astronomy, poetry, bunnies, rainbows, glitter, flute, reading, big sunglasses, palm trees, and Lady Gaga.