vegan

Joyful Almond Bars

Oh how I love me some Almond Joy bars. I think it was sometimes around Halloween when the craving striked. Since then, a lot of my sweet cravings were chocolate and coconutty. So, naturally I decided to make my own more nutritious version: Joyful Almond Bars. Made with 4 simple ingredients. Check it out. 

Joyful Almond Bars

  • 4 cups shredded coconut

  • 10 medjool dates, pitted

  • 1 tsp vanilla

  • 1 cup coconut milk

  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips

  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds

In a food processor blend together coconut, dates, vanilla, and coconut milk. Place in a 9x13x2 pan and spread evenly. Place in freezer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a double boiler, melt dark chocolate chips (or chocolate sauce). Remove the coconut from the freezer. Pour and spread the chocolate sauce on top of the coconut. Top with almonds. Place tray in refrigerator until chocolate layer sets. Cut into squares and enjoy.

Creamy Greens & Artichoke Dip

One of my favorite apps to order is a classic spinach artichoke dip. Nothing beats that warm, savory drip, spread across some crispy, salty pita bread (or any bread for that matter). And hey, there's spinach in it! And artichokes! it must be healthy. 

Eh, not so much. I wanted to give my best shot at making a healthier (but just as tasty) alternative. This version uses cashews and white beans instead of sour cream or cream cheese. You still get the creamy, savory texture, but this time with loads of extra fiber, protein, and healthy fats. I've also added an extra green, kale, to give it an extra nutrient boost. 

This version does still have cheese in it, a sprinkling of parmesan. However, if you "don't do dairy" you can eliminate this, and instead sub in nutritional yeast. I've made it both ways, and I think they're both bomb. 

Creamy Greens & Artichoke Dip

  • ½ cup cashews
  • ½ cup white beans
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced,
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup water, boiling
  • 1 can artichoke hearts
  • 1 cup kale, packed
  • 1 cup spinach, packed
  • Pita Bread for dipping

In blender or food processor place cashews, white beans, garlic, salt, parmesan and water. Blend until completely smooth. Add artichoke hearts, and pulse until well blended. Add kale and spinach and pulse again. Enjoy with pita bread.

To reheat: transfer to oven safe bowl and heat at 400 F. until warm.

 
 

Pre-Workout Mocha

It's never fun getting to the gym or your workout class and feeling weighed down by your last meal. It's also never fun finding yourself starving in the middle of a tough workout. That's why I love this hearty, antioxidant loaded hot chocolate recipe to help fill me up (without making me cute), and boost my energy levels before a workout.

Small amounts of caffeine can enhance workout performance, allowing you to increase endurance (such as run longer) or enhance muscle recruitment for strength training activities, such as lifting weights. Remember, just because some is good doesn't mean more is better, so make sure to drink water to balance out the dehydrating effects of caffeine as well. 

Raw cacao powder is loaded with antioxidants, almost 10x more than blueberries. When you workout, your body goes through a natural inflammatory process. Making sure you load up on antioxidants both before and after your workout will ensure your body has everything it needs for speedy repair and recovery. 

The small amount of maple syrup has simple sugars, to give you just enough energy to get through your workout, and the fiber and healthy fats in the cashews help ensure that your blood sugar levels don't spike immediately after you enjoy this tasty beverage. 

Try drinking this ~60 minutes before your workout for best results. And please, leave a comment below and let me know how you liked it!

Pre-Workout Mocha

  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1 shot espresso (optional; eliminate to make this a hot chocolate)
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 3 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla

In a medium sauce pan, heat almond milk, espresso, cashews, and vanilla. Heat just before boiling. Pour into a blender and add cacao powder and maple syrup. Blend until smooth and enjoy!



6 Hearty & Healthy Holiday Recipes

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! The lovely Alix has done me (and you!) the huge favor of rounding up 6 deliciously nutrition holiday recipes. I'll let her take it from here. Enjoy!

 

 

It seems like it was just a month ago I was home with my siblings cleaning up all of the leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner while the adults munched on my aunt’s homemade poppyseed rolls. When I go home for the holidays, my mom always has me take over the kitchen for what I assume is a nice break for her and my dad. Below are a few of the dishes very similar to some of the ones I typically prepare for Thanksgiving dinner. Hopefully these make your food prep a little bit easier, as well as a little (or a lot) more healthy and delicious! 

Roasted Brussel Sprouts and Squash from Blogging Over Thyme

Brussel sprouts can be tricky. If you cook them right, however, they are absolutely delectable and super rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. I like my brussel sprouts a little crispy, and in this recipe the tender squash compliments them well. Photo credit: www.bloggingoverthyme.com.

Lentil, Kale, and Potato Salad from She Likes Food

This one goes out to all of you that feel like you can’t eat with your family on Thanksgiving because you don’t eat meat, gluten, or eggs. I'm trying out a vegan lifestyle for a month, and that means no turkey for me on Thanksgiving. I have been brainstorming a few things that I can help my parents make to prove to them that vegan food can still be equally, if not more delicious than non-vegan food. This recipe is definitely on my list! Photo credit: www.shelikesfood.com.

 

Green Bean Casserole with Parmesan Crumb Topping from iFOODreal

My grandma always prepares the green bean casserole. Every. Single. Year. Here’s a recipe from iFOODreal that takes a different approach to the green bean casserole that subs Corn Flakes for crispy onions on top. Photo credit: www.iFOODreal.com.

Sweet Potato Casserole With Maple Pecan Topping from Jessica in the Kitchen

You can’t just have one casserole. Everybody knows that. I want to make a casserole with a nice, starchy vegetable that keeps me from reaching for too many of those butter rolls my aunt always brings. Below is a recipe that is similar to a sweet potato dish I make, and I might even make the switch over because it happens to be vegan! Photo credit: www.jessicainthekitchen.com.

Vegan Garlic Mashed Potatoes from It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken

Here we go, another vegan alternative for me that I’m hoping my mother will not even notice the difference. I plan on using almond milk because I don’t like the taste of coconut milk. I can taste 1 drip of it in just about anything. However, coconut milk has many nutritional benefits, so if you like it, definitely go for it! Photo credit: www.itdoesnttastelikechicken.com.

Paleo Pumpkin Cake from Jay's Baking Me Crazy

This is the second recipe I searched for, just to make sure I was on the right track with my vegan modifications. I could not possibly risk messing up a pumpkin cake. What’s Thanksgiving without pumpkin? Hopefully, I’ll have leftovers of this one that I can freeze for Christmas. Photo credit: www.jaysbakingmecrazy.com

What will you be making for Thanksgiving this year?

Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

Have you ever made a dish that came out sooo delicious, you then preceded to make it every week for the rest of your life? That's how I feel about this butternut squash mac & cheese. I will never tire of it. Well, at least not until winter is over. Let me not waste anymore of your time with these words, and let's dig in. 

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Butternut Squash Mac & Cheese

  • 1 butter nut squashed, halved lengthwise 
  • 10 pieces nitrate-free bacon, chopped (optional)
  • 1 pound pasta (I used brown rice penne pasta)
  • 1/2 head kale, de-veined and chopped
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Place butternut squash on lined baking pan face down for 25-45 minutes, until fork tender. Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil.
  2. Begin cooking bacon in non-stick bacon pan. Cook until crispy, stirring occasionally. Place bacon on a plate lined with paper-towel. 
  3. Add pasta to boiling and set timer for time on package instructions. 
  4. When the squash is completely cooked, remove from oven. Scoop out seeds from butternut squash and discard.
  5. In a blender, blend broth, cashews, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Blend until smooth. Then, scoop out butternut squash (seeds removed) and transfer to blender. Blend until smooth, adding extra broth if necessary. 
  6. In a large pan, over medium heat add kale and a few splashes of water. Cook until wilted. Then, drain pasta and add to pan. Top with sauce, bacon, and parmesan cheese. Stir until well coated. Serve and enjoy!
 
 

Mayo-Free Potato Salad

I'm actually quite a fan of mayo... but I know a lot of people who just can't stand it. I guess something about the jiggly, slick texture? But, anyone, this recipe is for those peeps! Check out my Red White and Blue, Mayo-Free Potato Salad.  

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Mayo-Free Potato Salad

  • 2 lbs creamer potatoes (I got a variety of red, white, and purple potatoes)
  • 1/2 lb string beans, washed and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 eggs, hardboiled and chopped (optional)

Fill a medium size pot with water and bring to boil. Add potatoes (whole) and boil about 10 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain and let cool for a few minutes. Meanwhile, steam the string beans in a basket steamer (you can also set a colander of a pot of boiling water). Using this method helps retain the nutrients by preventing them from leaching out into the water.  

Steam string beans for about 5 minutes (don't let them get soggy). 

Make the Cashew Mayo. 

Cashew Mayo

  • 1 cup cashews 
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup dill
  • 1 tbsp mustard
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
  • Salt to taste

In a high speed blender, blend all ingredients until smooth. 

To finish: Dice the potatoes to desired size and throw in a large bowl with string beans, celery, and eggs. Pour the Cashew Mayo over them, toss, and cover to let the potatoes soak up the dressing. Salt to taste and enjoy! 

 
 

Frozen Honey Lavender Lemon Bars

With this crazy heat wave we are experiencing here in Boston (I am NOT complaining), I've been craving frozen treats every minute of everyday. With a plethora of Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade essential oils at my finger tips, I decided to get creative and try something a little out of my comfort zone (read: something other than ice cream).

A few weeks ago I went to the SoWa market here in South Boston. All the rage if you're looking to wait in line for 2 hours for food truck cuisine. My friend Kara and I grabbed some Scoop Sights vegan ice cream bars to hold us over. I had sea salt caramel and Kara had lemon lavender. Ding ding ding... immediate inspiration.

These bars are SO easy to make, and best of all, you don't even need your oven.  

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Frozen Honey Lavender Lemon Bars

For the Crust:

  • 1 cup oats (if you're 'paleo' you can just substitute your favorite nut)
  • 1 cup medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 cup cashews (or any other kind of nut)
  • 5-8 drops DoTerra Lemon Essential Oil (if you don't have the oil on hand you can use a few tablespoons of lemon juice)

For the Custard:

*I used Whole Foods Market 365 brand Organic Coconut Milk (found in the international isle). To separate just the cream, place the cans in the refrigerator overnight. When you open the can, separate out the water (it's a clear liquid) and use just the cream. This will ensure less crystallization after you freeze the bars. 

In a food processor, pulse together the ingredients for the crust until the crumbs are small enough to stick together. Press the ingredients into the bottom of a 9x9 pan.  

Whip together the coconut cream, honey, lavender oil, and vanilla with an electric mixer or blender. You can also do this by hand, but it's not as easy!

Pour this mixture over the crust. Set in the freezer for 8 hours. Cut into 9 squares and enjoy! 

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For more information on essential oils, be sure to drop me a line!

 

Red Lentil Dahl Soup

Ever make a recipe and then forget about it? That's what happened to me with this soup. I made this a looong time ago, thought it was one of the most delicious things I ever made, and then POOF erased it from my memory. I'm not sure why but I am sure glad that this soup is back in my life. Even though I can hardly contain my excitement for winter coming to an end - I am going to miss these hearty soups, so let's have one last hurrah! One thing you'll notice is that I made this stew without oil. Now, you can certainly use oil or butter, but if you're trying to cut back, check out my tip below for sautéing onions without oil.  

Red Lentil Dahl Stew

  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or substitute with a Soup Starter)
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1, 28 ounce can whole plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 jalapeño, seeded and chopped 

In a large pot over medium-high heat, add onions and stir continuously. With a higher heat, the onions will contract, and release a lot of water, which will prevent them from sticking. If they start to stick, add a small amount of vegetable broth (only about 1 tsp at a time). Add the garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt, and jalapeño, and sauté, continuing to add small amounts of vegetable broth if necessary.  

Add the lentils, broth, and tomatoes. Cook 30-45 minutes until all of the liquid is absorbed. Salt and pepper to taste and enjoy!

Kelp Noodle Stir Fry

Ever heard of a kelp noodle? Me neither. Well not until a few months ago at least. See the beauty of working (or what feels like living) in a grocery store is that it lends itself to all sorts of discoveries. One of my favorite places to wander when I have a free moment is the 'International Aisle." Thats where I discovered the kelp noodle. I'm not really convinced its made of anything really. With only 6 calories for a pretty hefty serving, there's not much to these bad boys. So while you might be retaining some of the benefits kelp has to offer (high in iodine and calcium), I will just think of them as a similar composition to air. Upon my purchasing, I discovered that these suckers make a great substitute for noodles used in Asian dishes, but probably wouldn't recommend putting meatballs on top of them. They're slightly crunchy with a mild flavor so they retain sauces quite well - not to mention they're minimal carbohydrate content makes them a less-filling substitute to rice noodles or pasta.

But the best thing about this recipe? It only takes about 15 minutes to make!

Check out my recipe for Spicy Peanut Stir Fry (with Kelp Noodles) below.

Spicy Peanut Stir Fry (with Kelp Noodles)

  • 1 bag kelp noodles, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups chopped veggies (I used broccoli, eggplant, grated carrots and red bell pepper)
  • 1 T toasted sesame oil
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • ½ cup cashews
  • 1 serving peanut sauce (ingredients below)

Put medium pan on medium heat. Toss the chopped vegetables with the sesame oil in the pan until cooked (or choose to keep them raw).

For the sauce

  • 2 T creamy peanut butter
  • 1 T honey
  • ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes or chili powder (more if you prefer spicy sauce)
  • 1 T grated ginger
  • 1 T minced garlic ¼ cup water

Whisk ingredients together in bowl. Pour sauce over kelp noodles and mix until noodles are coated. Top with veggies, cilantro, and cashews to enjoy! (You can always add a protein like chicken, steak, tofu, or shrimp to increase the protein content as well).

Have you ever tried kelp noodles? What do you think?