Sep 142014
 

North African Spiced Vegetable Kebabs with Coconut Tahini Sauce. Fragrant olive oil, fresh ginger, cumin, cinnamon and allspice – oh my!

North African Spiced Kebabs

North African Spiced Kebabs

The other night I wanted something a little different.

Something with some SPICE to it. And a creamy sauce to balance it out.

 North African, or Chermoula, spiced kebabs with a coconut tahini sauce. Perfect.

Ethnic food is so exciting to create – new flavors and textures to be discovered. These kebabs in particular made me realize how much I miss the creative side of food. Life has gotten so busy since leaving my corporate job (ironically enough). I have resorted to discovering delicious semi-homemade dishes due to lack of time, but I love the times I can slow down and savor.

I had be researching different ethnic foods when I came across the definition of Chermoula. It sounded so appealing, but of course I threw in a few variations.

I added fresh ginger for a bit of a kick and fresh lemon - though preserved lemon would be delicious too.

As I was chopping my vegetables and mixing my sauce I got to thinking.

How old is this dish? Who originally created Chermoula? Is it more healthful to eat the way our ancestors did?

National Geographic has had a really interesting series on how we will feed the population of the future and the state of health, food and nutrition. The article in this month’s issue, written by Ann Gibbons is fascinating. She dissects the origins of the Paleo diet. This diet asserts that there are a few experts saying that we should eat what the cave man ate.

But who was the cave man? Did every population across the globe eat the same exact foods?

The author asserts, “As we look at 2050, when we’ll need to feed two billion more people, the question of which diet is best has taken on a new urgency. The foods we choose to eat in the coming decades will have dramatic ramifications for the planet. Simply put, a diet that revolves around meat and dairy, a way of eating that’s on the rise throughout the developing world, will take a greater toll on the world’s resources than one that revolves around unrefined grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables.”

“Until agriculture was developed around 10,000 years ago, all humans got their food by hunting, gathering, and fishing.”

There are very few indigenous tribes left and scientists are rushing to study their habits before they disappear. Why are there such low instances of diseases from every population from the meat eating Inuit Indians to the plant eating populations of rural China. What are they doing that we aren’t doing?

The Paleo way of life suggests that if we eat what we think our ancestors ate, we will be eating healthfully. Free range meats, fish, no dairy or grains and select fruits and vegetables. But what about HOW they obtained their food?

There are a few things that we forget when we think Paleo. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors had to hunt their food, on foot, with a spear. The kind of energy this requires is astronomical, therefore they craved more caloric, energy dense foods.

That being said, no one actually ATE meat all that often. “Everybody thinks you wander out into the savanna and there are antelopes everywhere, just waiting for you to bonk them on the head,” the article states. When meat was scarce, which was OFTEN, they relied on plants. Even the Paleolithic man’s diet was mostly plant based – 70% or more, and many times, completely plant based, depending on the season and location.

When it comes down to it, humans have survived on just about anything. Our hallmark is our adaptability, the article stresses. It is when we adopt the diet of today that the diseases begin to run rampant- the GMO foods in everything from plants to the feed of livestock and dairy cows, the salt and sugar, the amount of processed foods, and our lack of exercise.

Experts actually say that we have the Paleo diet wrong. It does well to focus on unprocessed foods and no dairy; however, the focus on meat, albeit free range, is not in line with how the Paleolithic man actually ate, nor is the activity level near what would be required to offset the meat consumption.

I think Michael Pollan sums it up well – Paleo diet or not.

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

And I’ll add in – and get up and move.

North African Spiced Kebabs

North African Spiced Kebabs

North African Spiced Vegetable Kebabs with Coconut Tahini Sauce

Serves 4
Vegetarian, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe

*Vegetable Marinade and Dressing

1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/8 tsp ground coriander
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch allspice
¼ tsp minced fresh ginger
Juice ½ lemon
3-4 Tbsp olive oil

Kebabs

1 Japanese eggplant
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow squash
½ red onion

Coconut Tahini Sauce

¼ cup unsweet coconut milk
½ tsp raw honey
¼ cup raw sunflower seeds
3 Tbsp water
½ Tbsp white miso
½ Tbsp tahini

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375F; soak wooden skewers in water.

2. Mix marinade ingredient in a small bowl and set aside. Blend coconut tahini sauce ingredients in a small blender and set aside.

3. Slice kebab vegetables; thread onto wooden skewers; brush marinade over vegetables evenly; set remaining marinade aside for dipping later; roast vegetables for 30 minutes, or until golden. Serve 1 skewer over garlic Naan or Garbanzo Bean Garlic Naan; top with coconut tahini sauce.

*In a time crunch, try subbing 1 tbsp Za’atar, Curry or Vindaloo seasoning blend and adding the lemon and olive oil.

Nutrition Facts
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 217.2
Total Fat 15.4 g
Saturated Fat 2.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 3.8 g
Monounsaturated Fat 8.7 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 12.8 mg
Potassium 630.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 19.2 g
Dietary Fiber 6.1 g
Sugars 3.6 g
Protein 4.3 g

Vitamin A 14.2 %
Vitamin B-12 3.1 %
Vitamin B-6 16.2 %
Vitamin C 25.7 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 25.1 %
Calcium 7.0 %
Copper 15.9 %
Folate 17.3 %
Iron 7.0 %
Magnesium 12.4 %
Manganese 27.3 %
Niacin 9.1 %
Pantothenic Acid 10.1 %
Phosphorus 16.9 %
Riboflavin 8.4 %
Selenium 9.3 %
Thiamin 10.2 %
Zinc 6.1 %

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

9-5-2014 3

Sep 052014
 

I am so excited about this flourless Chickpea, Olive Oil and Garlic Naan recipe that I could do cartwheels!

Chickpea Garlic Naan Recipe

Chickpea, Olive Oil and Garlic Naan Recipe

With a lovely bread-like texture and light crisp crust I’m wondering what took me so long to create something delicious with chickpea flour. My friend Vivian has been telling me for months that I had to try it. She uses it to make pancakes, breads, tortillas and more. I played around with the liquid ratios and found that you need to thin the flour quite a bit and let it bake up. Next time I might try coconut oil and see how that goes. I could definitely see making this for a crowd so I might try it out at the next cookout! If you do the same, don’t be shy with the olive oil – use a bit extra and let it really soak in, and try mixing some roasted garlic in with the batter. This is best served immediately out of the oven and my version is only 80 filling calories per square so go ahead and enjoy two squares. I won’t tell.

(I’m even MORE excited about the recipe in the next post….stay tuned. Hint…see the below photo. Can I say OMG?)

Chickpea Garlic Naan Recipe

Chickpea Garlic Naan Recipe

Chickpea Garlic Naan

 Vegan, Gluten Free, Flourless
Serves 12
Printable Recipe
Inspired by Vivian, Owner of KyV Farm

Ingredients

2 cups garbanzo bean flour
scant 3 cups water
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2-3 Tbsp olive oil

Directions
1. Mix flour, water, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl until well blended. Let sit 2-4 hours to fully incorporate all ingredients.

2. Prepare 9×13 pan with oil, brush evenly over surface; pour batter into pan.

3. Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean; remove from oven, cool, cut into 12 squares; sprinkle with additional sea salt if desired. Serve immediately.

*Reheat any left over bread.

Nutrition Facts
12 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 80.1
Total Fat 3.3 g
Saturated Fat 0.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.7 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 106.8 mg
Potassium 3.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 9.0 g
Dietary Fiber 1.7 g
Sugars 1.7 g
Protein 3.5 g

Vitamin A 0.2 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 0.4 %
Vitamin C 0.1 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 1.4 %
Calcium 0.7 %
Copper 0.0 %
Folate 0.0 %
Iron 4.3 %
Magnesium 0.1 %
Manganese 0.2 %
Niacin 0.0 %
Pantothenic Acid 0.0 %
Phosphorus 0.1 %
Riboflavin 0.0 %
Selenium 0.1 %
Thiamin 0.1 %
Zinc 0.1 %

*Percent Daily Values for Chickpea Garlic Naan Recipe are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Do What Makes you Oh SO Happy

Jul 102014
 

Fresh summer produce gave me the idea for this Easy Vegan Three Bean Salad. There is nothing better than vine ripened tomatoes, hearty edamame and garbanzo beans, and crisp-tender green beans dressed simply with olive oil and sea salt.

Perfect Pot Luck Salad!

Perfect Pot Luck Salad!

For cookouts, beach days, and everyday life, this is the PERFECT summer base salad. What is a base salad? Something you can add to; sautéed tofu, cashew cheese, or any protein or cheese you like.


July 4th was a whirlwind.

There was lots of time for fun and a few points of reflection.

The holiday kicked off with a cookout, followed by a beach day complete with paddle boarding and body surfing, and later that evening we watched our daughter see fire works for the first time on the boat….now THAT was cool.  There was even an unexpected limo ride the next day!

We were at our second cookout of the weekend, when suddenly there was a limo at the front door. Our friend’s landscaper/part owner of a new restaurant had sent a limo by to fetch us to enjoy food and drinks at his new place.

Then the unthinkable happened.  I got a call from my mom who had been rushed to the emergency room with chest pain.

With thoughts of my Dad‘s sudden passing in my head, I drove to the hospital. After many tests and a weekend of hospital food, she was diagnosed with severe gastrointestinal issues (not from the hospital food, but that’s a whole other story). Since she never complains about aches and pains, the pain must have been really bad at the time.

On the way home I reflected how fragile life is. After losing Dad so suddenly, I could clearly see the possibility of losing both my parents, and what was left was devastating. It made me so grateful that she is ok and back home and that I have been able to make the changes I had yearned for – leaving Corporate America, becoming self-employed, loving every minute with my small daughter and relishing the ability to be creative. Every. Day.

Has it been easy? Not always. But worth it? Yes.

I further reflected on what kept me where I was for so long.

Fear.

Fear that I might fall flat on my face, fear that I might be embarrassed, fear that I would have to work so hard and hate it, fear of failure.

There’s an old saying, if you love what you do, you never have to work a day in your life. 

It is SO true. Yes I work hard, but I enjoy every day now.

And guess what else I found out. Failure is part of success.

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. ~ Wayne Gretzky

This is my wish for you. Live every day as if it is your last. If you don’t like where you are in life now, begin to take steps to change it. Don’t stay where you are out of fear. Turn off the TV. Read books that will help you in life, like How to Win Friends and Influence People. Study people like Marie Forleo and Tony Robbins. Get up early, start dreaming, planning and taking action. Take a chance, let yourself fail, get back up and keep on going.

Don’t wait.

And while you’re dreaming, I have the perfect salad to fuel you.


Are you where you want to be? Do you have changes you need to make in life? What is holding you back?


Easy Vegan Three Bean Salad

Easy Vegan Three Bean Salad

Three Bean Salad

Serves about 10 rounded 1/2 cup servings
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
12 oz fresh green beans
12 oz shelled edamame
2 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup red onion (optional)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp coarse ground sea salt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 to 3 Tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Directions

1. Steam green beans until crisp-tender; about 10 minutes; remove from steamer and run under cold water and let drain. Cut into bite sized pieces.

2. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss well.

Nutrition Facts
10 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 151.6
Total Fat 5.8 g
Saturated Fat 0.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.7 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.1 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 234.8 mg
Potassium 233.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 18.7 g
Dietary Fiber 4.1 g
Sugars 0.8 g
Protein 7.3 g

Vitamin A 13.0 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 14.1 %
Vitamin C 18.2 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 3.9 %
Calcium 6.2 %
Copper 6.7 %
Folate 12.6 %
Iron 9.7 %
Magnesium 6.6 %
Manganese 20.1 %
Niacin 2.7 %
Pantothenic Acid 2.6 %
Phosphorus 6.5 %
Riboflavin 4.0 %
Selenium 2.4 %
Thiamin 4.2 %
Zinc 4.2 %

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

Three Bean Salad 

Jun 162014
 

Tender sweet potatoes, rich curry and toasted bread are the feature ingredients in my crunchy, delicious Sweet Potato Sliders with Curry Pesto.

Sweet Potato Sliders with Curry Pesto

Sweet Potato Sliders with Curry Pesto

Well known as the home of the controversial Paula Deen, Savannah Georgia is one of my favorite places on earth. It is rich with history, has a great food scene and an amazing farmers market in Forsyth Park.

I visited last week, camping in my mom’s new camper at Skidaway Island State Park. If you ever stay in the area, definitely plan on the market Saturday morning. It runs from 9am to 1pm.

The mission of the Forsyth Farmers’ Market is to promote understanding and participation in a local food system that supports sustainable production and increases access to local products.”

Forsyth Farmers Market

Forsyth Farmers Market

Last week’s market held a special surprise through a gentleman named Michael Maddox; the manifestation of my dream to build a community around an organic farm. TRUE community supported agriculture. Think of the possibilities! A school, homes and families all focused around health, food and a connection with nature.

I can’t help but wonder how many of us could grow our own food if we needed to. How many kids know where vegetables come from, or even what many vegetables even taste like?

Green Bridge Farm

Green Bridge Farm

Meet Michal from Green Bridge Farm, about thirty minutes northwest of Savannah. I spoke with Michael and he is now selling lots around his organic farm, with a school just nearby. This land has been in his family since the 1700′s and he is personally funding this project.

A Sustainable Community Project

An ecologically-friendly development of twenty five wooded acres in Effingham County, Georgia.

An existing 20 year old organic farm is the center piece and shared community space on this otherwise wooded acreage. Lots for sale in sizes of 1.2-1.6 acres each, priced at $50,000.00 per lot.

Green Bridge Farm

Green Bridge Farm

There is even now a Tumbleweed home for rent! Tumbleweed homes are small homes, sometimes on wheels, that help people live simple, inexpensive, uncluttered lives. To me – that sounds like real freedom. The blog notes state,“We now have a Tumbleweed house for rent. Anyone interested in visiting the farm and staying overnight can now stay in this little home for  small fee.  Call me for details. 912-667-1118.” 

Here are the details of the main lots.

Community Space

There are approximately four acres set aside for community space including existing organic vegetable gardens and fruit orchards. Gardening is not mandatory but this project provides a unique opportunity for those interested in growing their own food. The four acre lot and gardens will be maintained by the neighborhood association.

CSA

CSA

I would love for projects like this to begin popping up all over the US. Pure utopia. It would be amazing to live in small communities, utilizing solar power if possible, and spending spare time learning how to self-sustain. No produce from Chile and Argentina, no trucks from halfway across the US. Think of the energy savings!  My next dream is to build lots that have gone vacant and build tumbleweed communities – where one family once was, now there are five, with a garden in the middle. Sort of like this one in Somoma but with the organic garden in the center.  America’s “bigger is better” mentality is unsustainable, this would be a solution to this problem. No trees would be cut down to clear new land, and families would still have the joy of owning their own space. Who wants to join me with this project?!

Forsyth Farmers Market

Forsyth Farmers Market

Back at the campground we created a lovely meal from the fresh produce we got at the market as the children played at the playground. What I love best about camping is the family time – no technology distractions. It is an inexpensive and fun way to take lots more vacations throughout the year!

Camping

Camping

One of the last days we were in Savannah we tried to visit our favorite Green Truck Pub, but much to our dismay, it was closed that day! We resorted to a small café next door to a natural food store and my mom happened to order the most delicious looking sandwich.

Sweet Potato Sliders with Curry Pesto

Sweet Potato Sliders with Curry Pesto

A sweet potato on ciabatta with a creamy pesto. It was VERY heavy, but I loved the concept and it simply had to be recreated at home….so here it is! Crunchy, sweet, delicious and with a little twist of curry on fresh baked, organic bread. Nothing better!

Sweet Potato Sliders with Curry Pesto

Sweet Potato Sliders with Curry Pesto

   Sweet Potato Sliders with Curry Pesto

Serves Estimated 8-10
Vegan
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

2 large sweet potatoes
1 baguette
1 10 oz pkg baby lettuces
1/3 cup raisins

Curry Pesto
1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
2 tsp curry powder
2 Tbsp melted curry coconut oil (such as Ziggy Marley) + extra for greasing baking sheet and potatoes
1 clove garlic
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground ginger

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 450F; grease baking sheet with coconut oil and rub additional on potatoes; poke holes evenly over skin of potatoes with fork; rub with salt; bake for 30 minutes; flip and bake additional 20 to 30 minutes; remove from oven, let cool and slice.

2. Meanwhile blend curry pesto ingredients; slice and toast or grill baguette.

3. Layer 1 slice baguette, spread 1 – 2 tsp pesto, a few raisins; two slices sweet potato; a few lettuce leaves, top with second baguette slice.

**Please note: un-flavored coconut oil works just fine. Feel free to use that as well!

Estimated Nutrition Info
**There may be some pesto left, so calorie count may be lower. When I created the calorie count I had to include the calories and fat from all the pesto.
10 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 225.6
Total Fat 4.7 g
Saturated Fat 2.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.4 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.7 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 348.2 mg
Potassium 152.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 32.8 g
Dietary Fiber 2.6 g
Sugars 5.8 g
Protein 5.8 g

Vitamin A 67.5 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 5.4 %
Vitamin C 41.9 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 1.9 %
Calcium 3.2 %
Copper 5.1 %
Folate 1.7 %
Iron 11.7 %
Magnesium 3.8 %
Manganese 8.1 %
Niacin 3.2 %
Pantothenic Acid 4.1 %
Phosphorus 4.5 %
Riboflavin 2.4 %
Selenium 0.6 %
Thiamin 2.7 %
Zinc 1.8 %

*Percent Daily Values for Sweet Potato Sliders with Curry Pesto are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Jun 062014
 

My Summer Coolers with fresh fruit and herbs are perfect to bring with you on the go. They will leave you feeling light, refreshed and are 35 calories or less!

Refreshing Summer Cooler with Fresh Fruit

Refreshing Summer Cooler with Fresh Fruit

Drink eight glasses of water.

Eat your fruits and vegetables.

Don’t drink sodas or diet sodas.

Hey, we all know the rules. We know we need to stay hydrated and eat our fruit, but drinking water all day gets boring, and reaching for a granola bar or diet soda is easier.

I’ve found a delicious way to get your water and fruit in – that is so refreshing, you’re freezer will be filled with mason jars.

Why are we supposed to stay hydrated anyway?

I’ve got a few good reasons. Are bodies are made up of mostly water. We need it to cushion organs, flush toxins and cool our bodies.

Speaking of cushioning our organs – think of what happens when our brain is dehydrated. Hello headaches and fatigue.

Many times we think we are hungry, but we’re actually thirsty. I can’t tell you how many time’s I’ve read a blog post or tip that tells me to drink a full glass of water before each meal to keep me fuller. Do I do it? No. Why? Because that glass of wine is calling my name.  But THIS recipe is a whole other story. I drink it morning, noon and night, and after one taste, I bet you will too.

Refreshing Summer Cooler with Fresh Fruit

Refreshing Summer Cooler with Fresh Fruit

A few other luscious ideas:

Herb Coolers

Herb Coolers

Blueberry, Thyme and Grapefruit Essential Oil (Or use fresh grapefruit juice)

Strawberry, Cucumber, Basil and Peppermint Essential Oil (Or use fresh peppermint)

Mint, Basil, Blueberry, Thyme and Lemon Essential Oil (Or use fresh lemon juice)

**Please note, use can absolutely use fresh juice in place of any of the oils – it just won’t be quite as fragrant or potent.

**If you are using oils, do NOT use just any old oil. See below for tips.

**If you would like to try the certified organic oils I use, visit my essential oils page.

Tips

Stay cool!

Refreshing Summer Cooler with Fresh Fruit

Refreshing Summer Cooler with Fresh Fruit

Refreshing Summer Fruit Cooler

Serves 2
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

*Certified Organic Lemon Essential oil (or juice 1 lemon)
1 cup fresh fruit (I used berries and peaches)
Filtered Water
2 Mason Jars

Directions

1. Spoon 1/2 cup fresh fruit into each mason jar; cover with filtered water; drop two drops of lemon essential oils into each of the jars; freeze Mason jars overnight.

2. Fill remaining space in mason jar with water (and additional fruit or herbs if desired) and drop two additional drops of lemon essential oil into each jar; cover, shake and enjoy.

 

Nutrition Facts
2 Servings
Amount Per Serving
Calories 35.0
Total Fat 0.0 g
Saturated Fat 0.0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 7.5 mg
Potassium 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrate 8.5 g
Dietary Fiber 1.5 g
Sugars 5.5 g
Protein 0.5 g

Vitamin A 1.0 %
Calcium 3.0 %
Iron 2.0 %

*Percent Daily Values for Refreshing Summer Coolers with Fresh Fruit are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

May 022014
 

The secret is in the sauce with my Garlic Black Beans over Rice Pasta. Extra garlic, onions, Kalamata olive paste and sundried tomatoes are tied together with a dash of balsamic for pure perfection.

Garlic Black Beans

Garlic Black Beans

What is the first thing you are usually thinking about when you get up each morning?

If I wake up before my alarm, my brain tends to go towards what I need to get done that day and I automatically guide it towards what I’m grateful for. If it is my alarm that wakes me up on the other hand, I’m thinking how tired I am already before I can start directing my thoughts towards a more positive place.

I’m thinking about it this morning because I came across this amazingly eye opening video by Marie Forleo interviewing Arianna Huffington. Marie writes, “Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, has been wildly successful, but was working so hard at one point in her life that she found herself sick and burnt out, overworked, and boggled down with things to do.

In her book Thrive, Arianna Huffington shares the secret to how changing your mindset and a few habits in your daily routine can help you unlock your true wisdom, allow you to come up with your best ideas, and be your most creative self.

She’s learned from experience that following these simple steps can lead to a more productive, less stressful, and more joyful life where you’re not strangled by your to-do list and have enough time to actually accomplish (and enjoy) the things in your life that matter most.”

How to be more productive and less stressed? Sign me up! The most eye opening part for me was when she said if you start becoming fearful or stressed, change the channel.

What the hell does this have with Garlic Black Beans over Rice Pasta? Because this was a night that I was harried, stressed, tired and the last thing I could think of what to make for dinner. I had a bunch of things I needed to use in the fridge or it would be too late (and I loathe waste) so, as much as I wanted to, I didn’t go out and buy dinner. This choice would save time and money in the end.

I had to stop and tell myself that there is nothing else I can do in this moment while I’m making dinner – effectively “changing the channel”. I was able to refocus, look at what I had, and create this meal that came out deliciously, surprisingly well. Instead of traditional Cuban or Mexican spices, the olives and sundried tomatoes give this dish almost a meaty texture and taste and the balsamic vinegar at the finish adds a tangy layer of depth that simply makes the dish. We all went in for seconds – it is even going on my favorites list!

What is the first thing you usually think about in the morning? If you watch this video, what was your favorite tip?

Garlicky Black Beans

Garlicky Black Beans

Garlicky Black Beans over Rice Pasta

Serves 6
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

1 tsp EVOO
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp sea salt & dash fresh ground pepper
2 cups chopped kale
4 1/2 cups well cooked black beans (or 3 14.5 oz cans, rinse and drain only one, reserve liquid from second)
2-3 cups veggie broth or water (depending on how thick you prefer)
3 Tbsp Kalamata olive spread, such as Organic Divina
3 Tbsp julienned sundried tomatoes
2 tsp course ground prepared mustard
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
10 oz rice pasta, cooked to package directions

Directions

1. Heat a stock pot over medium high heat; add olive oil; sauté onion about 5 minutes (add a tbsp of water if onions begin to stick); reduce heat; add garlic; cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute; add salt, pepper, kale, black beans, veggie broth, olive spread, sundried tomatoes and mustard. Simmer about 20 minutes or until soup has thickened. Stir in balsamic vinegar. Serve over rice pasta.

Nutrition Facts
5 Servings
Amount Per Serving

Calories 426.4
Total Fat 7.0 g
Saturated Fat 0.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.7 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 766.1 mg (use water to reduce to 424 mg)
Potassium 670.5 mg
Total Carbohydrate 66.6 g
Dietary Fiber 14.2 g
Sugars 1.6 g
Protein 16.1 g

Vitamin A 146.2 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin 6 9.8 %
Vitamin C 39.7 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 2.8 %
Calcium 7.5 %
Copper 17.2 %
Folate 41.2 %
Iron 20.1 %
Magnesium 21.9 %
Manganese 38.7 %
Niacin 17.1 %
Pantothenic Acid 3.5 %
Phosphorus 17.5 %
Riboflavin 6.7 %
Selenium 3.2 %
Thiamin 32.1 %
Zinc 9.2 %

*Percent Daily Values for Garlic Black Beans over Rice Pasta are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Apr 222014
 

Are you ready for a fiesta, but fresh (non-GMO) corn isn’t available? Grab a can of baby corn and try my Summer Grilled corn salsa with Baby Corn!

(Bonus – kids will love trying “baby corn” I’m surprised I had any left for the photo since my daughter kept grabbing some!)

Summer Grilled Corn Salsa with Baby Corn!

Summer Grilled Corn Salsa with Baby Corn!

Of COURSE I always say fresh is best – but when it comes to what is in season in your area, sometimes you just can’t get that ingredient. Try frozen, organic vegetables first; however, if those aren’t available either, it is ok to sub a can of veggies here and there, BUT, here are some of my tips.

If you can’t get salt free, be sure to reduce the salt in the recipe.
Don’t just plop a can of veg into a dish. Be sure to do something with it – like grill it. I’ll never forget when I ordered a tropical salad from a restaurant and they gave me iceberg lettuce with canned pineapple on top. I thought to myself – GRILL that pineapple if you can’t use fresh. At least put some effort into it. Sheesh.

 Look for BPA free cans. BPA stands for bisphenol A. BPA is an industrial chemical that has been used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. Epoxy resins are used to coat the inside of metal products, such as food cans, bottle tops and water supply lines. Some dental sealants and composites also may contain BPA.

Grilled Baby Corn Salsa

Grilled Baby Corn Salsa

What I love most about this salsa is it’s mixture of textures and flavors. It is simple to throw together and great as a topping for tofu or any protein you like. If you are having a Mexican Fiesta – this will be perfect or for any summer party where you are grilling up some delicious bean burgers and carrot dogs. The best part is it is just a little different from the usual tomato salsa and will be sure to have people exclaiming – Grilled Salsa! What a great idea!

Have you ever tried grilling ingredients in a salsa? What is your favorite salsa recipe?

Grilled Baby Corn Salsa

Grilled Baby Corn Salsa

Grilled Baby Corn Salsa

Serves 4
Vegan, Gluten Free
Printable Recipe

Ingredients

1 can baby corn
1/2 sweet onion, quartered
2 tomatoes, cut in half
1 jalapeno
Juice of 1 lime
1/8 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
Olive oil mister

Directions

1. Preheat grill to medium high; place a grate cover on grill grates so corn will not fall through; spray corn, onion, tomatoes and jalapeno with olive oil spray or Misto; place on heated grill and grill until char marks appear; flip once and grill until char marks appear on second side; remove from heat; cool 5 minutes; chop veggies**; sprinkle with sea salt & cilantro and finish with a squeeze of fresh lime.
**For no heat, use grilled jalapeno as garnish, to add heat, add a small amount of jalapeno at a time until desired level of heat is reached. 

Nutrition Facts for Grilled Corn Salsa
4 Servings
Amount Per Serving 

Calories 49.0
Total Fat 1.6 g
Saturated Fat 0.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.9 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 82.1 mg
Potassium 232.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 8.9 g
Dietary Fiber 1.6 g
Sugars 1.0 g
Protein 1.4 g

Vitamin A 9.4 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 4.7 %
Vitamin C 21.2 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 2.2 %
Calcium 0.7 %
Copper 3.6 %
Folate 6.1 %
Iron 2.6 %
Magnesium 4.3 %
Manganese 6.3 %
Niacin 4.2 %
Pantothenic Acid 3.6 %
Phosphorus 4.0 %
Riboflavin 2.9 %
Selenium 0.6 %
Thiamin 6.2 %
Zinc 1.3 %

*Percent Daily Values for Grilled Corn Salsa with Baby Corn 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.