Apr 022014
 

  This Easy & Delicious Vegan Spanakopita Recipe has a healthy little secret – within that oh-so light and flakey crust it is stuffed with savory, seasoned greens and tangy sun dried tomatoes nestled inside. My whole family enjoyed each bite!

Vegan Spanakopita Recipe

Vegan Spanakopita Recipe

Getting kids involved in cooking is fun.

Especially with plant based cooking. No worries of contamination or icky pathogens – just good clean fun.  The best part is that it is time well spent together (electronics-free), AND gives kids a skill that will benefit them for the rest of their lives.

When I graduated college I do believe my best dish was spaghetti with jarred sauce that I typically managed to still mess up. I remember all the waaaaaay back to my dorm at FSU – there was a shared kitchen with one of those old stoves with the coil.

Visions of a Dorm Room

Visions of a Dorm Room

The “kitchen” was more of a closet with other students occasionally also cooking spaghetti or a processed cheese product that could last a nuclear ice age – you know the one I’m talking about.

Cooking in the Dorm

Cooking in the Dorm

Very funny photo source. If you want to be entertained - click the link. 

A well trained cook, my mother was not. Fish sticks, chicken pot pie and tuna noodle casserole all the way baby.
Love you mom! Please don’t be mad I’m telling everyone about the frozen fish sticks!

My Nana, on the other hand, was an excellent macrobiotic cook. But, unfortunately I didn’t think macrobiotics were cool when I was growing up, so I didn’t learn how brilliant my Nana was until later in life.

Now that I have learned so much about food, our food system in the US, and cooking, I have vowed to bless my daughter with knowledge and skill. She will know what kohlrabi is, how to make her own bean burgers (and be able to eat the raw mix if she wants), the importance of fiber, why staying away from dairy is key, and the state of the commercial farming industry. She is one of the people that will help shape our future – and the future looks better than today.

Part of our future is electronics. I’ve learned to embrace it, but respect it’s power. One of the ways I have planned to embrace it is by doing more videos on how to cook. My problem is timing. By the time I get home from a long day of business meetings, appointments etc. my daughter needs to start her homework  and I have to get dinner on the table before she tries to eat me out of house and home. The last thing I seem to be able to do is put makeup on and film a video.

But I have good news. I’ve discovered a great medium for the busy cook who wants to get into the video segment.

The Vine Video. In 7 seconds I can give a quick overview of how a dish was made. No one really wants to sit down to a 20 minute tutorial before they eat anyway, right? Right? (At least that’s what I’m telling myself.)

Well here it is. You can pause it at each frame but just don’t pause it on my oh-so-fresh and un-made up face. Lord knows I’m not in my college days any more.

Did you grow up cooking? If you have children, how do you get them involved?

Vegan Spanakopita Recipe

Vegan Spanakopita Recipe

Greens Spanakopita

Serves 4
Vegan
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

8 sheets fillo dough
Olive oil spray
1 onion, sliced thinly
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 bunches kale, bok choy, spinach or mixture of any greens (about 5 cups), chopped
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1/3 cup julienned sundried tomatoes
2/3 cup non-dairy cheese (such as cashew cheese, Daiya or tofu cheese)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat; spray with olive oil; sauté onions, about 5 minutes; reduce heat to medium-low; add garlic and greens, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Cook an additional 5 minutes or until greens are wilted.

2. Place one sheet fillo on pan prepared with parchment; spray with olive oil; top with next sheet; repeat. Top with greens mixture, cheese and sundried tomato; fold edges over so top is completely covered; flip and spray top with additional olive oil; bake for 25-30 minutes or until fillo is browned. ** Cut into four triangles.

**Watch the fillo closely because it can go from undercooked to overcooked in minutes!

Nutrition Facts (with 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil)
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 204.8
Total Fat 9.6 g
Saturated Fat 1.9 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.8 g
Monounsaturated Fat 4.2 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 508.0 mg
Potassium 599.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 26.4 g
Dietary Fiber 4.3 g
Sugars 4.5 g
Protein 5.8 g

Vitamin A 296.1 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 12.6 %
Vitamin C 86.9 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 8.5 %
Calcium 9.5 %
Copper 14.1 %
Folate 9.3 %
Iron 12.7 %
Magnesium 10.1 %
Manganese 33.8 %
Niacin 6.1 %
Pantothenic Acid 2.4 %
Phosphorus 7.0 %
Riboflavin 7.3 %
Selenium 3.0 %
Thiamin 7.5 %
Zinc 3.4 %

*Percent Daily Values for Vegan Spanakopita Recipe are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Mar 242014
 

Flavorful marinated mushrooms stuffed with a soft vegan cheese are topped off with tart, tangy and sweet sundried tomatoes in my Vegan Marinated & Grilled Stuffed Mushrooms.

Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms

Vegan Stuffed Mushrooms

In the middle of the night last night, thoughts started coming to me – rolling in like thunderclouds. Dark, worrisome, brooding.

 It started with losing my dad and ran the gamut through all of the things I need to get done. I started wondering why we as humans occasionally wake in the middle of the night and start worrying. For one, we can’t do anything about it at that time and secondly, worrying typically doesn’t accomplish anything other than making us feel terrible.

Suddenly, I remembered an excerpt about time travel from a book I’m reading called Choose Yourself, by James Altucher. Not time travel as in “I want to go back in time to see the dinosaurs”, but as in be in the NOW. When you think about the past or the future you are time traveling.

Grilled Mushrooms

Grilled Mushrooms

So I began to have gratitude for what I had RIGHT THEN. A warm, comfy bed, my husband snoozing next to me, and my daughter nestled in her bed. A roof over our heads. Running water. An abundance of food, an abundance of knowledge, family and friends, residing in sunny Florida.

Next I remembered something in this month’s Oprah magazine called 4-7-8 breath. You breathe through your nose for 4 counts, hold for 7 counts and exhale from your mouth for 8 counts. Repeat.

Next thing I knew – I was off to dreamland.

Upon waking I knew I had my topic for this post! It flows perfectly with another realization I came to recently. While I’m cooking I never am really present. I’m rushing around trying to do twenty things at once and sometimes burning what I’m cooking in the process. Vivian from KyV Farm recently said she has been cooking all her food for the week on Sunday and she calls it her “me time”. I decided there was no reason I couldn’t do that, so while I was cooking these mushrooms I decided to be present. I grabbed a glass of wine and my magazine and sat on the porch as the mushrooms were grilling. My daughter set the table, we lit candles and sat as a family. We made a sort of mini-production out of it. What a difference this makes! It gives us time to chat about our day, or even just to be quiet together. And that is what life is really about, right?

I hope some of these experiences help you to be more present in your day, to not “time travel”, and to live your best life!

What are your favorite ways of staying in the moment?

Vegan Marinated Mushrooms

Vegan Marinated Mushrooms

Now for the recipe – I have a tofu tip for you.

To press the tofu of water, I love using a TofuXPress (see how it is used in this post.). I finally broke down and bought one a while back and it is probably one of my most favorite tools. It both presses blocks of tofu with no mess, and has a cover so you can marinate right in the press. It is worth the splurge on it. If you want to check it out I have a link to one…look just to the right under “I recommend”. I promise you will NOT be disappointed.

Vegan Grilled Mushrooms

Vegan Grilled Mushrooms

Vegan Marinated & Grilled Stuffed Mushrooms
with Sundried Tomatoes

Serves 4 – 8
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe

Please note that tofu will need to be prepared a day or two prior to making this recipe. Feel free to make the marinade ahead too!

Ingredients

1 block organic, extra firm tofu
2-3 Tbsp miso
8 Portobello Mushroom Caps
6 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 Tbsp prepared mustard (I like coarse ground)
2 Tbsp maple syrup, honey or agave (honey is not vegan)
1/2 cup non-dairy shredded mozzarella (such as Daiya)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup julienned sundried tomatoes

Directions

1. Press tofu of water – 1 hour to overnight; slice into three sections lengthwise. Spread each slice evenly with miso and let sit overnight.

2. Wipe down mushroom caps and remove stems. Mix balsamic, olive oil, garlic, mustard and maple syrup in a large bowl with a lid. Place mushroom caps inside and gently toss in marinade. Let sit 10 – 20 minutes.

3. Mix miso, tofu, cheese and garlic powder in a large bowl with hands until all ingredients are well incorporated.

4. Heat grill over medium heat, to around 350F; place mushrooms on grill racks, gill side
down; cook 7 to 10 minutes; turn and stuff each mushroom cap with 2 rounded Tbsp of tofu mixture; grill an additional 10 minutes or until “cheese” is heated through. Top each with a few slices of sundried tomato.

**Reserve any leftover marinade for another use.

Nutrition Facts
8 Servings
Amount Per Serving 

Calories 168.4
Total Fat 8.8 g
Saturated Fat 1.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.3 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 338.3 mg
Potassium 616.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate 14.7 g
Dietary Fiber 2.3 g
Sugars 6.2 g
Protein 8.9 g

Vitamin A 0.8 %
Vitamin B-12 0.1 %
Vitamin B-6 3.4 %
Vitamin C 3.4 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 2.1 %
Calcium 7.0 %
Copper 8.9 %
Folate 4.5 %
Iron 8.3 %
Magnesium 12.5 %
Manganese 41.2 %
Niacin 2.7 %
Pantothenic Acid 1.3 %
Phosphorus 11.4 %
Riboflavin 3.1 %
Selenium 10.3 %
Thiamin 3.6 %
Zinc 7.0 %

*Percent Daily Values for Stuffed Mushrooms are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Mar 122014
 
Vegan Carrot Cake

My Carrot Bundt Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting is a new and fresh twist on the classic flavors you love.

Sweet, creamy and tangy frosting is slathered over spiced, carrot bundt cake that is stuffed with raisins, sunflower seeds and coconut in this easy-to-make recipe (that just so happens to be vegan, gluten free, nut free and refined sugar free).

Florida Coastal Cooking

Florida Coastal Cooking

Cream cheese and carrots.  A little naughty and a little nice.

Vegan, GF, Sugar Free Carrot Bundt Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Vegan, GF, Sugar Free Carrot Bundt Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Sort of like strangers kissing for the first time.

(I just had to fit that video in because it is so sweetly romantic.)

Though you will feel naughty eating carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, you’ll find that this cake is actually very nice! Each serving boasts 5 grams of fiber, ZERO cholesterol, 13.8g sugar, 5 g protein and TONS of vitamins and minerals.

Now let’s compare this to a cheesecake factory slice of carrot cake……

Nutrition Facts, Cheesecake Factory Carrot Cake, Serving Size 1 slice, Amount Per Serving

Calories from Fat 756 Calories 1510
% Daily Values* Total Fat 84g 129% Saturated Fat 23g 115% Cholesterol 190mg 63% Sodium 600mg 25% Total Carbohydrate 179g 60% Dietary Fiber 6g 24% Sugars 129g Protein 18g

Vegan, GF, Sugar Free Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Vegan, GF, Sugar Free Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

 Tips for this bundt cake: This is a small bundt cake – be sure to keep an eye on the cook time. You may want to check it at 20 minutes as oven cooking times vary.  This cream cheese frosting will be great on just about any cake or cupcake. If you don’t like maple – simply sub agave or brown rice syrup.

What is your favorite cake? Chocolate cake? Rum cake? Fruit Cake?  Maybe I’ll make that next!

Vegan, GF, Sugar Free Carrot Bundt Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Vegan, GF, Sugar Free Carrot Bundt Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Carrot Bundt Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Serves 10
Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Nut Free
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

1/2 cup coconut butter, softened
1 cup unrefined, organic coconut sugar (or 1/2 coconut and 1/2 sugar if you don’t care about sugar free)
1/4 cup unsweet apple sauce or crushed pineapple
1/4 tsp lemon zest & 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup non dairy milk
1 1/2 cups GF all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup each raisins, sunflower seed and/or pumpkin seed, shredded unsweet coconut.

Maple vanilla cream cheese frosting
8oz cream cheese alternative
2 Tbsp maple
1 tsp lemon (2 drop lemon oil)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cider vinegar

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Cream together coconut butter and coconut sugar; stir in applesauce or crushed pineapple; stir in lemon juice and lemon zest. Add vanilla, salt, pumpkin pie spice and nondairy milk.

2. Mix GF All Purpose Flour with baking powder in a small bowl. Stir slowly into wet ingredients.

3. Add 1 cup carrot, raisins, sunflower seed/pumpkin seed and shredded unsweet coconut.

4. Bake at 325 25 – 30 minutes. Test at 25 minutes with a knife to ensure it comes out clean. Cool completely.

5. Mix frosting ingredients. Frost cooled cake

Nutrition Facts
10 Servings
Amount Per Serving 

Calories 291.0
Total Fat 17.4 g
Saturated Fat 10.8 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.3 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 366.0 mg
Potassium 122.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 32.9 g
Dietary Fiber 5.0 g
Sugars 13.8 g
Protein 4.4 g

Vitamin A 30.9 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 2.9 %
Vitamin C 4.6 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 8.5 %
Calcium 14.0 %
Copper 4.6 %
Folate 2.8 %
Iron 13.2 %
Magnesium 2.3 %
Manganese 16.0 %
Niacin 2.1 %
Pantothenic Acid 2.8 %
Phosphorus 6.3 %
Riboflavin 1.3 %
Selenium 4.1 %
Thiamin 1.4 %
Zinc 2.7 %

Percent Daily Values for carrot bundt cake are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Feb 272014
 
Loaded Falafel Burger

These easy Loaded Falafel Burger with Roasted Vegetables use fresh roasted veggies along with premade burgers to save time on a busy weeknight.

Could there be anything better than eggplant, tomato and onion all roasted and caramelized? I think not.

Falafel Burgers

I give no apologies when it comes to dinner on busy weeknights.

Meals from scratch are best, but when it comes to getting home after a busy day and wanting to take a few shortcuts, I’m all for it. One of the cleanest burgers I’ve found is Sunshine Burger, and the falafel is delicious!

Here are the ingredients:

Organic cooked brown rice, organic cooked chick peas, organic ground raw sunflower seeds, organic cooked yellow split peas, organic Tahini (organic ground toasted sesame seeds), organic cumin, organic garlic, organic parsley, sea salt.

These are definitely something you can feel save feeding your whole family.

I don’t talk a lot about my personal life on my blog – I lean more towards chatting about the actual recipe and the benefits, but I’ll share a little of what has been going on and why I’ll be doing a fair amount of clean semi-homemade recipes instead of from scratch. Since leaving my corporate job in August life has been a whirlwind. Mornings (still) start by 5AM and I get right down to business. I’m a morning person though. I like to be sleeping by 9:30 or 10PM. I work for a few hours on events with Native Sun, my blog or my business. At around 7AM I get my daughter up to get ready and take her to school then head right to my workout to start my day. This has never been an “if I can make it” thing. No exceptions to working out! I head home and then it is off to meetings at Native Sun or business meetings. I absolutely love being out of the cubicle and in a self-directed environment. Sometimes I walk out of a meeting at 2:00 and into the sunshine wanting to yell – I’m FREE! I pick my daughter up from school and help her with her homework and sometimes take her paddle boarding on the river. Then after she goes to bed, many times it is back on the computer to take a training course, do an on-line business presentation or two or catch up on anything else. Self-development is another must. I never. stop. learning. We all are students, and if we don’t continue to learn, grow and change we cannot move forward. No, I don’t have time to watch much TV any more, but the old saying is so true – if you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life. After losing my Dad in May, I vowed that on my last two minutes of life I would look back with pride. I would not wonder what if. I will know that I did everything in my power to achieve my goals and dreams. I am not special. I am not unique. I simply made a decision to wake up and say to myself – I want more. It was a choice.  Though I have failed many times, and I will fail many times more, I look at each failure as an opportunity to learn. In the past two years I have learned more about people, how to listen and how much I enjoy helping others than the previous 34 years of life. I have found that through helping others, I naturally move closer to my goals and dreams.  On the days I think to myself – how am I going to do this? Am I deserving of making this work? I then think about all the successful people out there – many of them came from a world of hardship and rose to greatness. We all have 24 hours in a day. It is what we do with that time that sets us apart.

Plus, now you have this delicious sandwich to save you time.

Is there anything you would love to accomplish in your life? Are you moving towards it? If not, what might be holding you back?

Loaded Falafel Burger

Loaded Falafel Burger

Loaded Falafel Burger with Roasted Vegetables

Serves 4
Vegan
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

1 eggplant, sliced
1 roma tomato, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 Tbsp oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper
4 falafel burgers, such as sunshine burger
4 Organic thin style sandwich buns
1/4 cup prepared hummus

Yogurt Sauce (Optional – use extra hummus if omitting)
1 container plain non-dairy yogurt (preferably Greek style)
1 Tbsp fresh parsley
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1 clove minced garlic

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F; spray two baking sheets with oil or cooking spray; top with eggplant, tomato and onion slices; drizzle 1 Tbsp oil, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper; roast 25 minutes, turning vegetables half way through cook time.

2. In a small bowl, mix yogurt sauce ingredients if using.

3. Heat falafel burgers to package directions; toast thin buns. Spread bottom thin bun with 1 Tbsp hummus; top with one burger, 1/4 of the roasted vegetables and 2 Tbsp yogurt sauce; add top slice of thin bun and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 434.4
Total Fat 21.3 g
Saturated Fat 1.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 638.1 mg
Potassium 206.6 mg
Total Carbohydrate 53.0 g
Dietary Fiber 13.6 g
Sugars 7.7 g
Protein 19.7 g

Vitamin A 0.4 %
Vitamin B-12 3.8 %
Vitamin B-6 6.4 %
Vitamin C 8.0 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 2.4 %
Calcium 16.9 %
Copper 5.8 %
Folate 5.8 %
Iron 24.0 %
Magnesium 5.4 %
Manganese 11.4 %
Niacin 1.4 %
Pantothenic Acid 3.3 %
Phosphorus 9.5 %
Riboflavin 6.5 %
Selenium 1.4 %
Thiamin 5.3 %
Zinc 2.6 %

*Percent Daily Values for Loaded Falafel Burger are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Feb 182014
 

Simple, devilishly delicious and 100% vegan, my Vegan Chorizo Nachos with Pickled Jalapeno Relish will tame your inner junk food junkie.

Vegan Chorizo Nachos

Vegan Chorizo Nachos

 Layers of flavor with fresh lime, zippy jalapenos, spicy chorizo and a variety of textures from crunchy tortilla chips to creamy avocado come together in this recipe to satisfy even the biggest craving.  Bring this to your next pot luck and amaze your friends that it is vegan, or halve the recipe for a fun family night.  Either way you can’t go wrong!

Vegan Chorizo Nachos

Vegan Chorizo Nachos

Better yet have an impromptu fiesta!

Here are some great dishes you could include:

7 Layer Dip

7 Layer Dip

Chipotle Walnut Lettuce Wraps

Chipotle Walnut Lettuce Wraps

Grilled Corn, Onion and Black Bean Salsa

Grilled Corn, Onion and Black Bean Salsa

Mexican Tortilla Bake

Mexican Tortilla Bake

Black Bean Soup with Forbidden Rice

Black Bean Soup with Forbidden Rice

For anyone that doesn’t want to use the soy chorizo, sub black beans. I was unsure if I would enjoy the Tofurky chorizo; however, it was nicely flavored and had great texture. It will be an interesting experiment to bring this to an omnivore pot luck and see if anyone can tell the difference.  The pickled jalapeno relish is what really makes this dish unique. It is spicy but not too spicy, and has a nice acidity from the vinegar to add that finished layer.

Tell me – do you eat plant based meat products every now and then or do you try and go the whole food route? I typically stick with as many whole foods as much as possible but I also realize that people switching to a meatless diet can go through an adjustment period where it is nice to have some easy options to splurge on but still stick with the program. Hopefully this gives people options!

Vegan Chorizo Nachos

Vegan Chorizo Nachos

Vegan Chorizo Nachos with Pickled Jalapeno Relish

Serves 10 (This is great for a big group!)
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

1 bag organic corn tortilla chip rounds
1 pkg chorizo style meatless crumbles, such as Tofurkey
1 cup low fat, organic refried beans
3/4 tube vegan style nacho cheese such as Teese

Pickled Jalapeno Relish
2 green onions, chopped
1 avocado, seeded and chopped
1 tomato, diced
1/4 red onion, diced
1/4 – 1/2 cup pickled jalapeno slices, chopped
1 fresh lime, juiced

Directions

1. Preheat the broiler to high.

2. Lay a bag of tortilla chip rounds on a baking sheet ; top with 1 pkg chorizo style meatless crumbles; spoon refried beans over evenly; spoon Tees nacho style cheese over evenly; broil for five minutes, or until cheese is melted.

3. Mix relish ingredients in a bowl; top broiled nachos with relish.

Nutrition Facts
10 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 319.9
Total Fat 16.2 g
Saturated Fat 3.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.7 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 884.1 mg
Potassium 392.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate 28.4 g
Dietary Fiber 7.4 g
Sugars 1.2 g
Protein 9.1 g

Vitamin A 9.3 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 3.4 %
Vitamin C 9.0 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 1.4 %
Calcium 5.3 %
Copper 2.1 %
Folate 4.7 %
Iron 10.8 %
Magnesium 1.8 %
Manganese 2.4 %
Niacin 2.1 %
Pantothenic Acid 2.9 %
Phosphorus 1.5 %
Riboflavin 1.9 %
Selenium 0.2 %
Thiamin 1.6 %
Zinc 0.9 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Feb 142014
 

This semi-homemade Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe with Four Ingredient Creamy Cocoa Frosting is simple enough for even non-bakers (like myself) to make and absolutely scrumptious!

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

This post is for any of my last-minute types out there. If you want to make a dessert but they all sound too complicated, run out to your natural food store and grab the simple ingredients for these cupcakes and get mixin!

I loved the combo of chocolate with a touch of peanut butter peeking out from under a decadent and naturally sugar free frosting.  These Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes with Four-Ingredient Creamy Cocoa Frosting is great for vegans and non-vegans, adults and kids alike!

Happy Valentines Day to you and your loved ones.

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe

Vegan Chocolate Cupcake Recipe with Four Ingredient Frosting

Serves 18
Vegan
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

1 box Madhava MMM….Super Yummy Chocolate Cake Mix
Egg Replacer equal to 3 eggs (or three organic foraged eggs)
1 cup non-dairy milk or water
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
4 1/2 dark chocolate peanut butter cups, cut into 4s (Justin’s brand is vegan)

Frosting
6 Tbsp non-dairy creamer
3 Tbsp raw cacao powder
3/4 cup coconut oil, softened
1 1/2 cups dates, finely chopped
1/4 tsp salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Mix cake batter to package directions using egg replacer, water or milk and melted coconut oil; pour batter into muffin tin lined with cupcake liners (18 cupcakes); push 1/4 peanut butter cup into each cupcake and cover with batter; bake 23-25 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

2. Blend frosting ingredients using a high speed blender or processor until smooth – this will take several minutes, stop and scrape the sides of the blender regularly to ensure the ingredients are well incorporated.

3. Cool cupcakes completely and frost with frosting.

Nutrition Facts
18 Servings
Amount Per Serving 

Calories 288.6
Total Fat 17.3 g
Saturated Fat 14.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.6 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 153.6 mg
Potassium 111.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 34.0 g
Dietary Fiber 2.4 g
Sugars 21.1 g
Protein 2.3 g

Vitamin A 0.0 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 1.3 %
Vitamin C 0.1 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 0.2 %
Calcium 5.0 %
Copper 3.2 %
Folate 0.8 %
Iron 7.1 %
Magnesium 2.7 %
Manganese 3.7 %
Niacin 1.0 %
Pantothenic Acid 0.9 %
Phosphorus 1.6 %
Riboflavin 0.7 %
Selenium 0.8 %
Thiamin 0.6 %
Zinc 0.7 %

*Percent Daily Values for this Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes Recipe are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Feb 052014
 

Stick-to-your-ribs filling, my all natural and sugar free oats with nut butter and coconut oil are full of healthy fats, fiber, zero cholesterol and only 3 grams sugar. A perfectly delicious way to start your day!

Sugar Free Oatmeal

Sugar Free Oatmeal

My Nana always told me white sugar and white flour is the devil. Back over thirty years ago she already knew so much of the information that comes out nowadays as the latest and greatest health news.

Sugar Free Oatmeal

Sugar Free Oatmeal

Along with the flour and sugar comments from her, I would hear….eat mostly plants, pills are not the answer, you are what you eat, fast food will kill us.

She knew about the benefits of cayenne pepper, turmeric, macrobiotics, legumes ~ you name it, she was well versed in it.

A lot of my passion about natural food comes from my Nana. I remember browsing the aisles of small natural food stores, with their distinct earthy smell and natural light streaming through the windows. Life was slower, calmer and a little more relaxed when I stepped through the doors.  I could browse around and choose a healthy snack like dates rolled in shredded coconut.

She recently passed away right before Christmas ~ just shy of her 100th birthday. We miss her dearly but her long life was a testament to her health.

These oats are an ode to my Nana. She served me a similar breakfast every morning when I would stay with her.

Nana ~ we love you. Cheers to your long life!

Sugar Free Oatmeal

Sugar Free Oatmeal

Sugar Free Oats with Nut Butter and Coconut Oil

Serves 4
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe

 Ingredients

1 cup rolled oats**
1 3/4 cup unsweet vanilla non dairy milk or water
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/2 ripe banana
4 tsp nut butter
4 tsp coconut oil
1/4 cup nut/seed mix (raisins, sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds etc.)

**Be sure to use gluten free oatmeal for a gluten free meal

Directions

1. Heat oatmeal, milk, salt, coconut and banana over medium high heat, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until oats are soft, about 7-10 minutes.

2. Divide oatmeal mixture into four mugs; top each with 1 tsp nut butter, 1 tsp coconut oil and 1 Tbsp nut/seed mixture.

Nutrition Facts
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 252.6
Total Fat 16.2 g
Saturated Fat 4.8 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.2 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 161.3 mg
Potassium 208.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 23.1 g
Dietary Fiber 4.1 g
Sugars 3.2 g
Protein 6.1 g

Vitamin A 4.3 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 5.4 %
Vitamin C 1.8 %
Vitamin D 10.2 %
Vitamin E 20.5 %
Calcium 19.3 %
Copper 7.5 %
Folate 3.3 %
Iron 10.0 %
Magnesium 8.2 %
Manganese 12.7 %
Niacin 6.0 %
Pantothenic Acid 1.7 %
Phosphorus 5.9 %
Riboflavin 2.8 %
Selenium 0.8 %
Thiamin 3.6 %
Zinc 3.1 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Jan 292014
 

My warm Caramelized Banana Cookie Cake is vegan, gluten free, refined sugar and refined oil free ~ perfect for breakfast, snack or dessert when paired with a delicious scoop cashew ice cream.

Banana Cookie Cake

Banana Cookie Cake

Way back when, in my past life, I made a career choice that may surprise you.

Banana Cookie Cake

Banana Cookie Cake

After graduating from FSU I attended a career fair and saw a friend I knew. He was working as a manager and encouraged me to join the manager training program.

For the following year, I was a manager at Abercrombie & Fitch.

Banana Cookie Cake

Banana Cookie Cake

I have to give people that work in retail a shout out here. Not only do you work long hours, nights, weekends and holidays ~ you refold, restock and greet customers with a smile, even when you’re ready to call it a day. I’ll admit, it was the hours that prompted me to start looking for another source of income. The day I made the announcement that I was leaving was bittersweet. I was excited about the future, but I had made lots of wonderful friends that I would miss. My dear friend and co-worker Karey B. was even in my wedding party!

Banana Cookie Cake

Banana Cookie Cake

Before I left they had a little party for me. When I opened the box that held the cake, I was greeted with an unexpected, tongue-in-cheek saying and I started laughing hysterically.

The cake said “Peace Out Beotch!”

When I took my Caramelized Banana Cookie Cake out of the oven, all the memories of those friends flooded back ~ to this day,  I still can’t help but chuckle at their cookie cake.

____________________________

In this recipe, warm, caramelized bananas, a touch of salt and the tang of lemon are deliciously nestled under a scoop of cool, vanilla cashew-cream ice cream. I hope you enjoy every bite!

Banana Cookie Cake

Banana Cookie Cake

Caramelized Banana Cookie Cake Recipe

Serves 8
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable  Recipe

Ingredients

2 cups gluten free quick oats (or rolled oats pulsed in a food processor a few times)
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 tsp salt, plus extra for sprinkling
4 ripe bananas, divided
1/3 cup agave or local honey, divided
1/4 cup peanut butter, Nutzo or Sunbutter
2 Tbsp unrefined organic coconut oil, melted, divided
1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Mix oatmeal, almond flour and salt in a medium bowl. In a second bowl add 1 banana, mashed, 4 Tbsp agave or local honey, nut butter and 1 Tbsp coconut oil; blend until smooth. Pour the wet into the dry ingredients; mix well and press into a baking pan greased with some additional coconut oil; bake 15 minutes.

2. Slice remaining 3 bananas and place evenly over baked crust mixture. Mix remaining agave or local honey, coconut oil and lemon juice in a small bowl; brush over bananas; bake 5 minutes; set to broil on high and broil 5 minutes or until bananas begin to brown and caramelize. Sprinkle a bit more salt, if desired. Let cool, slice and top with cashew or banana ice cream.

Nutrition Facts
8 Servings
Amount Per Serving 

Calories 271.6
Total Fat 11.0 g
Saturated Fat 4.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.2 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 57.7 mg
Potassium 303.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 41.9 g
Dietary Fiber 4.6 g

Sugars 20.1 g
Protein 6.0 g
Vitamin A 1.1 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 21.7 %
Vitamin C 10.8 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 9.3 %
Calcium 1.5 %
Copper 4.3 %
Folate 4.7 %
Iron 8.1 %
Magnesium 10.7 %
Manganese 7.5 %
Niacin 7.2 %
Pantothenic Acid 2.5 %
Phosphorus 4.4 %
Riboflavin 4.8 %
Selenium 2.0 %
Thiamin 2.5 %
Zinc 2.5 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Jan 212014
 

One bite of my Spicy Sweet Potato & Mango Lentils with Chili Sauce will have your taste buds dancing.

Layers of flavor create balance in this dish; aromatic, fresh ginger, cooling coconut milk, sweet mango, a little heat from the chili sauce, and salty, savory miso ~ all tied together in a neat bow by Ume Plum vinegar.

Spicy Sweet Potato & Mango Lentils with Chili Sauce

Spicy Sweet Potato & Mango Lentils with Chili Sauce

Have you seen the show the Taste?

The Taste “features no-holds barred chef Anthony Bourdain, British food star Nigella Lawson, expert chef and author Ludo Lefebvre and restaurateur Brian Malarkey. Each of the four culinary superstars and “Taste” mentors – Bourdain, Lawson, Lefebvre and Malarkey – will coach a team of four competing pro and amateur cooks chosen from a nationwide casting call as they vie to create the best tasting dish.”

My five year old daughter and I have been watching this season and rooting for our favorite Vegan, Cassandra Bodzak.

As you watch the judging of each dish, it is interesting how the judges lean towards two things: fat and balance. Many times the dishes that lose are too dry or lack one of the elements of taste, most often sour/acidity or heat.

As I created this dish, the subject of acid became very apparent at first taste. Many times, without acid a recipe falls flat, lacks depth and seems to be missing something.  Think about the dish ~ could you add tomatoes, vinegar or citrus….google to see what goes best in that type of cuisine. In this case I didn’t have lime on hand so I used Ume Plum vinegar. Ah ha! Perfection!

Spicy Sweet Potato & Mango Lentils with Chili Sauce

Spicy Sweet Potato & Mango Lentils with Chili Sauce

Umeboshi are traditionally made by harvesting ume fruit when they ripen around June and packing them in barrels with salt. A weight is placed on top and the fruit gradually exude juices, which accumulate at the bottom of the barrel. This salty, sour liquid is marketed as umezu (梅酢; often translated as “ume vinegar”), although it is not a true vinegar.

I searched for quite a while to find this ingredient because it is often used in one of my favorite recipe books ~ Clean Food by Terry Walters. I finally found it locally at Native Sun; however, if you don’t live in the area, check on line or visit your local natural food store.

I can’t wait for you to try this dish! It is going down in my “favorites” and even my husband who is not a fan of Indian inspired dishes complimented this one. Enjoy!

Spicy Sweet Potato & Mango Lentils with Chili Sauce

Spicy Sweet Potato & Mango Lentils with Chili Sauce

Spicy Sweet Potato & Mango Lentils with Chili Sauce

Serves 7-8 3/4 cup servings
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

1 tsp coconut oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup red lentils
1 tsp curry powder
1 1/2 cups veggie broth
1 cup mango (the fruit of about 2)
1 sweet potato, chopped (do not peel)
2 tsp miso
1 can full fat coconut milk
3 dashes organic chili sauce or Sriracha (Plus extra for garnish if you like it hot like I do!)
2 tsp Ume plum vinegar
Cilantro for garnish (optional)

Directions

1. Heat 1 teaspoon coconut oil in a stock pot over medium-high heat; add onions, sauté about 5 minutes; add garlic and ginger sauté an additional minute; add lentils, toast for 1-2 minutes; add curry powder; add vegetable broth, mango and sweet potato; bring to a boil reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils and potato are soft, about 30 minutes.

2. Remove from heat and stir in coconut milk, miso, chili sauce and vinegar.

3. Garnish with cilantro and serve over cooked quinoa such as Pereg Quinoa with Vegetables.

Nutrition Facts
7 Servings
Amount Per Serving 

Calories 154.8
Total Fat 10.9 g
Saturated Fat 9.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 588.1 mg
Potassium 134.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 14.5 g
Dietary Fiber 2.1 g
Sugars 5.3 g
Protein 1.8 g

Vitamin A 50.5 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 5.7 %
Vitamin C 17.0 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 1.6 %
Calcium 1.3 %
Copper 4.6 %
Folate 8.1 %
Iron 4.3 %
Magnesium 2.6 %
Manganese 8.0 %
Niacin 2.0 %
Pantothenic Acid 2.1 %
Phosphorus 3.7 %
Riboflavin 2.6 %
Selenium 1.3 %
Thiamin 3.4 %
Zinc 1.8 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Bonus tip: 

For a WONDERFUL breakdown of the different types of lentils visit about.com.

Jan 132014
 

Move over eggs ~ there’s a new perfect protein for breakfast. My Avocado and Sea Salt Toast has a healthy, balanced blend of fat, FIBER and protein with zero cholesterol.

What’s not to love?

If you are an avocado lover, like me, you may not have thought of using it in place of butter for a simple, creamy and satisfying breakfast for your busy mornings.

Creamy Avocado and Sea Salt Toast

Creamy Avocado and Sea Salt Toast

Every day you get up with purpose. You get out of bed, shower, hurriedly get dressed in the dark ~ and manage to get out the door with a black shoe on your left and a brown shoe on your right. True story from my past life.  I remember it only too well.  For all of my hard working friends in Corporate America – I dedicate this post to you.

Who has time for breakfast?

Creamy Avocado and Sea Salt Toast

Creamy Avocado and Sea Salt Toast

You do! Just before grabbing your keys and leaving, toast some sesame Ezekiel bread and grab an avocado, an onion and your knife.

I’ll tell you the reason for the onion in a second.

Creamy Avocado and Sea Salt Toast

Creamy Avocado and Sea Salt Toast

Take your knife and cut around the avocado, the long way; twist. For now, leave the pit in the one side because it will cut down on the oxidation (browning).


Source
 ~ The Amazing Avocado

Next, cut your slices while the avocado is still in the skin. (Technically, you don’t have to do this step ~ it just looks prettier.)

Slice Avocado
Source
 ~ Thank you to the Practical Cook

Scoop out half of the slices on one side for your toast and place the remaining avocado in a reusable airtight container. Cut an onion and half and place it in there right along with the avocado. The vapors from the onion will reduce further oxidation.

If the avocado is ripe enough you should easily be able to spread it like butter. In fact, I will be so bold as to say wherever there is butter, avocado should replace it.

Let’s look at butter and avocado nutrition facts in a head to head comparison for a two tablespoon serving.

Avocado vs. Butter

Avocado vs. Butter

Shhh….don’t tell the dairy farmers.

Avocado can even be subbed in baking! According to 3 Fat Chicks on a Diet:

“Avocado is almost like a butter, and just like butter it has a soft and creamy texture. You may have to do some experimenting, but in general you can simply substitute 1 cup of avocado for 1 cup of butter. You may have to increase other liquids as the avocado does not melt like butter.

When substituting avocado for eggs in your baking, start by substituting 2 tbsp. to 1/4 cup mashed avocado for each egg.

Avocado will make your cakes rise up higher in the center, and in some occasions may even cave. It also browns quicker, and therefore your cake may look well done on the outside, but the inside may still be doughy. To avoid these things from happening, reduce your oven temperature by about 25 percent and increase your baking time.”

Creamy Avocado and Sea Salt Toast

Creamy Avocado and Sea Salt Toast

One bite and you will be subbing avocado left and right for everything – ESPECIALLY when there is coarse sea salt involved. There is something about that tiny, salty crunch on top of creamy, satisfying avocado and nutty sesame.

Avocado and Sea Salt Toast

Avocado and Sea Salt Toast

Creamy Avocado and Sea Salt Toast

Inspired my a request from my 5 year old daughter ~ she loves it!
Serves 1
Vegan, Gluten Free Option*
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

1 slice sesame Ezekiel Bread (or gluten free bread)
1/4 ripe avocado, sliced
Sprinkle of coarse sea salt

Directions

1. Toast the Ezekiel Bread; spread avocado over bread evenly; sprinkle sea salt.

Nutrition Facts
1 Serving
Amount Per Serving

Calories 152.2
Total Fat 7.2 g
Saturated Fat 0.9 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.8 g
Monounsaturated Fat 4.2 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 83.4 mg
Potassium 299.3 mg
Total Carbohydrate 18.7 g
Dietary Fiber 5.9 g
Sugars 1.1 g
Protein 4.8 g

Vitamin A 1.3 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 10.2 %
Vitamin C 6.3 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 2.9 %
Calcium 0.6 %
Copper 3.7 %
Folate 9.6 %
Iron 5.5 %
Magnesium 9.1 %
Manganese 3.2 %
Niacin 10.1 %
Pantothenic Acid 6.3 %
Phosphorus 10.3 %
Riboflavin 3.6 %
Selenium 0.2 %
Thiamin 10.2 %
Zinc 6.0 %

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.