I have been totally MIA for the past month and a half because work has been BONKERS! It’s great to have more work than you know what to do with but also quite challenging to strike any sort of balance. Today’s post is in keeping with the theme of trying to juggle work, motherhood and all the responsibilities of life while fueling my spent body with nutritious food (because, hey, jelly beans are A LOT quicker than chopping veggies). The lovely Sienna and I had the opportunity to meet and shoot with a local business, Motherbees, that specializes in providing homemade nutritious food to pregnant, nursing and new mamas. They make and deliver healthy food for moms, which as I’ve learned this past year, is all too important and quite difficult to accomplish on your own with a new baby. It turned out that the founder Heng Ou and I ran in some of the same doula circles (I’m not a doula but met many during my pregnancy) and know some of the same wonderful people. The world gets smaller every day:)

Here are some of the inspiring images we made of vibrant, nourishing foods. I love gorgeous, meaningful collaborations!!

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015 Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015 Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015


I’ve been on a bit of a pickling bender lately. They are so crunchy and tangy I just can’t get enough! I won’t even mention how good pickled foods are for digestion (oh, wait, I just did). This recipe is easy, suuuuper crunchy and made to store in the fridge. Get crunching and make your tastebuds and your tummy happy;)

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

*makes 2 pint jars

1 1/2 pounds Persian cucumbers, washed and dried
6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
small handful dill
2 teaspoons mustard seed
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon fennel
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup water
1 1/2 Tablespoons sea salt

~ Prepare jars and lids by cleaning in the dishwasher or with hot soapy water. These are not preserved pickles and must be refrigerated.

~ Trim off blossom end of cucumbers. These ends contain enzymes that can take the crunch out of your pickle (hehee). Cut cucumbers into spears or coins.

~ Add spices to jars, dividing evenly between both jars.

~ Combine vinegar, water and salt in a pan over high heat. Bring to a boil then pour over the pickles, leaving space at the top of each jar to gently tap the jars and release air bubbles. The fill the rest of the way then cover with the lids, screwing them on fairly tight.

~ Let the jars cool then refrigerate and ENJOY crunchy fresh homemade pickles!!!

* These Pickled Bell Peppers aren’t to be missed either! They’re PERFECT for that leftover turkey sandwich;)

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

As the weather gets cooler I start to gravitate toward heavier foods. It’s just so so satisfying until my tummy starts to protest! Oh heavy foods can come at a price! This recipe used to be a summer staple in our house but has most recently become a go-to any time we need to do some tasty clean eating and give our poor bellies a break. The other day I realized the only place this recipe exists is jotted in barely legible scrawl on a post-it note it my cabinet in true mad scientist form (all of my best ideas and food/body product recipes live on post-its;)! If that post-it ever fell off and found it’s way into the trash, which is right next to it, that would be the end of this dish. My memory is useless! So, needless to say, I had to make and shoot it asap to preserve it’s delicious legacy.

This is the kind of good-for-you food that even veggie haters tend to really like. It’s beautiful and very obviously healthy with tons of crunch, taste and texture to satisfy your taste buds and heal your angry guts! I’ve been on a pickling kick so more pickled recipes to come…

Ps: This slaw is best made the night before and tastes so much better if the flavor have a chance to get it on in the fridge for a bit!

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons raw honey
  • 3 Tablespoons minced dill
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 apple, sliced into match sticks
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped

~ In a very large mixing bowl, whisk together vinegar and honey to emulsify. Add dill and salt and pepper once thoroughly mixed.
~ Add sliced apple to dressing and immediately toss to coat to prevent browning.
~ Add cabbage, raisins and pecans. Toss well to coat and mix ingredients.
~ Cover with plastic wrap or lid and refrigerate overnight.
~ Toss thoroughly before serving.


Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

…look at all that gut-loving goodness, Hubba hubba…

Talk about a cause near and dear to my little old heart! The Center for Ecoliteracy promotes ecological education in schools throughout California, teaching children that food (or at least whole, healthy foods) come from the earth. Children learn that the little belly button on an avocado means it grew on a tree. A TREE?! Yes darlings, the world is a wondrous, delicious place:)

I’ve had the opportunity to work with this wonderful group of passionate people on their California Thursdays project which is a collaboration to bring nutritious, freshly prepared meals featuring California-grown foods to California school lunches. My heart goes pitter-patter. I’ve always felt passionately about food education, and now that I have my only little California-grown wildling that will be attending school some day it has become an even dearer cause. Not to mention it’s always so dang fun to work with people who are as totally nutty about food as I am!!!

My job in this collaboration was to visually make simple, honest fruits and veggies as tantalizing and irresistible as possible. Pffffft, life is sometimes pretty great huh? Here are some of the fruits of that labor (hehe see what I did there? I know, good grief!). I hope they help the Center for Ecoliteracy ignite passion in the hearts and minds of California’s youth. Time to start tromping in the garden and watch the seeds of education sprout. It’s good to get muddy!

 Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

At the farmers’ market this week I stumbled upon some gorgeous, perfectly crisp and sweet snap peas. Snap pea season is so short in our hot climate so I was amped to get a giant bag at their peak of perfection. When I got home I realized how over-zealous I was and that we’d have to eat snap peas every day to use up the obscene quantity I had bought. Darn;)

Anyway, sushi grade ahi tuna might be a bit tough to source but I always find it really fresh and vibrant at our local asian market. This recipe has a a great mix of contrasting textures and flavors. The crunch of the peas and radishes against the tender ahi flesh pairs wonderfully with the pepper radishes, sweet snap peas and spicy ginger vinaigrette. To die for! We like it heavy on the ginger over here so adjust for your personal taste:)

ahi tuna, snap pea, salad, radish, recipe, food photographer, los angeles, Crystal Cartier


  • ~1 pound fresh ahi tuna, salted and peppered, seared at high heat for 2 minutes each side, cut into chunks
  • ~1 pound sugar snap peas, strings and tops removed and chopped
  • 8 radishes, very thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted black sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup ginger vinaigrette
  • salt and pepper


  • 1/2 cup macadamia nut oil
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 teaspoons agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon seedy whole grain mustard
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

~Toss all salad ingredients together in a large bowl.

~ Toss all vinaigrette ingredients except macadamia nut oil into a blender and blitz until smooth. While blending, slowly add the macadamia nut oil until it emulsifies. Store leftover vinaigrette in fridge.

~Drizzle salad with desired amount of vinaigrette and toss to coat. Serve immediately if desired, but flavors gain depth from chilling for an hour then serving.


ahi tuna, snap pea, salad, radish, recipe, food photographer, los angeles, Crystal Cartier

I forget about eggplant. Every week I buy loads of veggies but always forget about eggplant. This week I saw these little baby eggplants screaming in cuteness for some culinary attention and just had to get them and figure it out later. We always have tons of squash and the like here, but eggplant requires a different kind of flavor profile and treatment. I kept it simple this time around and these little buggers were just so tender and succulent. Super easy, pretty healthy and incredibly satisfying, this recipe is a keeper for those busy weeknights when you’re tired but still want real food.

What do you do with your eggplant?

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2013

  • 6 baby eggplants (mine were 2-3″ long)
  • fruity, full-bodied olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, diced
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • goat cheese
  • aged balsamic vinegar, drizzle for serving

~ Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

~ Halve eggplant lengthwise and toss with enough olive olive to lightly coat. Spread on foiled lined baking dish and sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes or until eggplant is tender.

~Plate eggplant and top each half with a spoonful of goat cheese, a drizzle of aged balsamic, and a light drizzle of olive oil (if desired).


all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2013

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2013

food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

I was at the farmers’ market this weekend when a woman said “Oh my gosh I just love these!” out of the blue. I looked at her because I was the only person in earshot of her exclamation and saw her holding up some cute little root veggies with tops that resembled mustard greens. “What are they?”, I asked. She told me they were baby turnips, much cuter than grown-up turnips for sure, and they were delicious. So needless to say I bought a bunch, or two or three! 😉 Though the green tops may look mustard-y, their flavor is much more mild and they are very tasty pan sauteed with a bit of butter and salt and served with these roasted nuggets of yum! These little suckers are sooooo stinkin’ delicious with a mustard vinaigrette. I already had mustard on my brain so I went with it.

Easy, healthy, delicious…does it get any better?!

all rights reserved Crysatl Cartier 2013

  • 1 bunch baby turnips (about 6 or so)
  • 1 clove garlic, slivered
  • 1 teaspoon seedy whole-grain mustard
  • 1 scallion, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon parlsey, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 Tablespoon white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar

~ Preheat oven to 425 degrees with a baking dish inside. In a bowl whisk together vinegar, mustard, scallion parsley and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

~ Cut turnips in half lengthwise through the stems. Toss with remaining 1/8 cup olive oil, slivered garlic and season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly on the preheated baking dish and roast for 20 minutes or so until tender, turning halfway through.

~ Toss turnips with vinaigrette.


all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2013


food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

I saw a bag of multi-colored potatoes at the farmers’ market and couldn’t resist. We don’t eat potatoes often here, but when we do we do it right. A nice variety of purple, yellow, and red potatoes provide a slight variation of texture and flavor while you’re eating these tasty tots. When it’s rainy (or snowing!) and chilly there’s nothing better than a crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside roasted potato and it doesn’t get any easier than this. Getcha some;)

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 COPYRIGHT

  • 2 pounds multicolored potatoes (red, purple, yellow)
  • ~1/4 cup rosemary infused extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra drizzle if needed
  • 1 Tablespoon smashed garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon+ fresh thyme leaves
  • 5 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • fresh ground salt and pepper

~ Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

~ Wash and halves potatoes. Toss potato halves with olive oil, garlic, thyme, and rosemary sprigs. Spread on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until crisp on the edges and tender on the inside ~40-45 minutes depending on size, tossing halfway through cooking. When tossing, drizzle more olive oil if necessary.


all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 COPYRIGHT



food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

With fall rolling in it’s time to shift over to foods of a new season. It’s always exciting to see the year’s first harvest of a new food at the farmers’ market. This week I found bosc pears and nearly flipped my lid with happiness! The sweet, crunchiness of those ugly brown pears makes it truly feel like fall, despite the horrendously hot weather we’re still sweating through here in SoCal. Bosc pears give me hope of a cooler day! Ha! This autumn delight is as easy as can be and fairly healthy when compared to most sugar laden versions of caramelized fruits. We used honey to caramelize the pears instead of sugar which opens up all kinds of infusion possibilities. I used the chile infused honey we made a couple of weeks ago and it added a nice twist of complexity to an otherwise completely sweet dish. Feel free to use the infused honey of your choice and don’t forget to comment and let me know if you have a great infusion combo!

Here she is, your sweet, crunchy start to autumn…

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2012

  • 1/4 cup honey, we used chile infused honey
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean powder
  • pinch of ground cardamom
  • several large pinches of ground cinnamon
  • plain greek yogurt
  • 2 bosc pears cored and halved lengthwise
  • pomegranate seeds

~Heat honey and butter in a large skillet over low heat, The mixture should bubble a bit but not burn or turn brown.

~ Sprinkle the cuts sides of each pear half with the cardamom, cinnamon, and vanilla bean.

~Place each pear half face down in warm honey, swirl the pears around in the skillet to coat evenly, cover with lid and cook until brown (about 4-5 minutes)

~Flip pears over and spoon honey over top. Cover and cook still over low heat for another few minutes.

~Remove and plate pears, drizzle with remaining honey syrup.

~Top pears with a generous dollop of greek yogurt and a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds.


food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

I’m a bit of a tea whore. Sometimes also a tea snob. I drink about a gallon of the good stuff a day, lovely. So when I find clever ways to infuse some of that earthy, subtle flavor of tea into a recipe I get all silly happy about it. In this recipe, chamomile tea imparts a soft earthy apple flavor to homemade whipped cream, turning a regular old shortcake into something just a bit more extraordinary. You could also add some dried lavender flowers (which I have) to the cream for a more floral experience. I’m, admittedly, not so much into baking but there comes a time when ya just gotta roll up those sleeves and make a flour-y mess of the kitchen in the name of tasty summer sweetness. I use this epicurious recipe for buttermilk shortcakes because I simply have never had better and I’m not looking to reinvent a perfectly good wheel! You could also try frozen biscuits to cut down on the effort.

So grab those last strawberries of the season and get slicing!

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2012

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1+ Tablespoon dried chamomile flowers
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar (if desired, I leave this out)
  • 1 pound ripe strawberries, sliced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 Tablespoon raw sugar

Buttermilk Biscuits

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon chilled buttermilk

~ Steep chamomile flowers and sugar in the cream for 1 hour or more. Keep refrigerated. When fully infused, strain cream through fine sieve and press flowers to squeeze out all remaining cream.

~ Whip cream with a hand held mixer until it forms stiff peaks. Be careful not too over-whip and make butter!

~ As per epicurious, Preheat oven to 375°F. Sift flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into large bowl. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Gradually add buttermilk, tossing with fork until large moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball. Divide into 4 pieces. Shape each piece into 3-inch round. Transfer to baking sheet, spacing evenly. Bake 20 minutes. Let cool.

~ Combine sliced strawberries, raw sugar, and the juice of 1 lemon in a bowl and toss to coat. Let sit for 15 minutes, this is when the magic happens;)

~ Split shortcakes with a fork and fill with berry mixture and whipped cream.


all rights reserved Crystal Cartier copyright 2012


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