Fruity Popsicles

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Breaking news: it’s HOT.  At least it is here in Central Florida.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining!  Warmer temps go hand in hand with all the fun things we love that cool us down.  For my family, this includes anything that has to do with water and icy treats that make us feel good from the inside out.  This Spring I introduced our little girl to popsicles and they were a big hit.  Rather than buying the pre-made, sugar-filled pops from the grocery store, I created an easy, 3 – 4 ingredient recipe.  The basic ingredients can be used with any fruit you love.  

INGREDIENTS:

  1. 1/2-1 cup coconut water (depending on how many you make)
  2. fruit of your choice, fresh or frozen (for strawberry, I used 4 fresh strawberries)
  3. 1/2 TBS lemon juice (optional)
  4. stevia to sweeten if needed

Blend all ingredients in a blender and pour into popsicle molds.  Freeze and enjoy!

Other fruit flavors we love are pineapple (a personal favorite), strawberry banana, orange (equal parts coconut water and freshly squeezed orange juice), cherry, blueberry, watermelon, and the list goes on.  

Oven Fried Okra

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Hi, folks!  In case you’ve noticed my absence, I’m here to tell you I’m getting back into the swing of things.  In all honesty, during the first trimester of this pregnancy, the last thing I wanted to do was cook (anything healthy).  One of my favorite side items of all time is fried okra, deep-fried okra.  I’m well aware of the complete lack of nutrition that this vegetable holds when prepared this way.  I’m also fully aware of the not-so-delightful feeling I have after consumption.  It is, however, the perfect little pop-in-my-mouth, salty, crispy bite that completely satisfies.  It’s this type of conundrum that gets my wheels spinning and forces me to find a solution that allows me to indulge in the foods I so much enjoy.

 

There are two ways to make this.  I’ve tried them both and they are equally delicious!

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag frozen cut okra, thawed (fresh-cut will work, too)
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup quinoa or millet flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt  & pepper to taste
  • *oil of choice (optional)


How-To:

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • *option 1: line baking sheet with parchment paper
  • **option 2: generously coat baking sheet with oil of choice
  • Combine flours & sea salt 
  • Lightly sprinkle salt over raw okra, then add okra to flour mixture
  • Toss until well coated and spread over baking sheet
  • Bake for 25-35 minutes or until crispy, stirring after 15 minutes.

My Favorite Way to Drink Coffee

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 I have to admit that there have been many times I’ve turned my nose up to some of the outlandish food ideas my husband has presented to me.  He is quite the adventurous health foodie who will eat anything that is good for you – no matter the taste (or smell).  I, on the other hand, need more persuasion … in the form of dark chocolate or pizza.  Kidding.  I eventually come around to (most of) his suggestions, and I’m always glad I did.  In this case, he came home speaking one of my love languages when he mentioned the word coffee.  Then he said butter.  Yes, dear, you have my attention.  When nutrition and my favorite things collide, it’s magic.

 

I have always loved black coffee without any frills, but when my lips met this warm layer of froth atop the creamiest coffee, I was done.  It won me over.  I will probably have a difficult time drinking it any other way from here on out.  Allow me to share the magic with you.  Combine in a high speed blender approximately 1 TBS of unsalted, grass-fed butter to 8 oz of your favorite freshly brewed coffee (Bulletproof is ours). We use Kerrygold Butter or Ghee.  Sit back, sip, and enjoy the deliciousness — and the benefits!

 

The BENEFITS of this combination are as follows:

 

  • Grass-fed Butter contains CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) which helps burn fat and increase muscle mass
  • The fats in the butter are great for the brain
  • Butter contains Vitamins A, D, E, K
  • Fats in butter lubricate joints
  • Curbs your appetite
  • Stabilizes your blood sugar level and helps stave off sugar cravings
  • The fats help sustain your energy level without the “crash” later in the day

The moral of the story is: eat/drink more butter!
If you are a coffee drinker, please try this.

 

 

SIDE NOTE: You can add stevia (or other sweetener) along with cinnamon, vanilla, or cocoa for a dreamy latte.  

 

 

Kale & Quinoa Salad

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Has your taste ever changed?  Mine certainly has, many different times throughout my life.  The only way to know is if you try something again that you once rejected.  I’m speaking from experience here.  Capers were not my friend.  I hated them and refused to allow them anywhere near my food.  Recently, that has all changed.  I now cannot get enough of these salty little flower buds.  Did you know they are actually unripened flower buds?  Pretty cool.  Not to worry though, friend, if you’ve yet to discover your love for this particular food.  It’s not the star in this simple salad (well, to me it is).  However, it does add a nice kick and marries deliciously with the olive oil to create the dressing. The weekend is here, so I thought I’d share this easy recipe with you.  I eat this salad almost every day and it’s great when you’re short on time.  It’s humble, yet packed with flavor.  And look at the lovely Autumn colors!  I hope you’re weekend is full of fun!

There are no measurements here, just use what you like!

  • Kale, washed and chopped
  • Red (or white) quinoa, cooked and cooled (I cook mine with veggie broth, garlic & onion powder, and sea salt)
  • Red (purple) cabbage, chopped
  • Organic goat cheese
  • Capers
  • Olive oil & sea salt

Layer all ingredients in a large bowl and stir together.

Roasted Apples & Pears with Salted Caramel

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Please do me this one favor: lean in, closely, and inhale deeply.  Can you smell it?  Can you smell the spicy cinnamon, the sweet pears, and the toasted walnuts?  Oh, how I wish you could.  I wish this was a scratch and sniff post.  If you only make this dessert for the sake of making your home smell like everything perfect that the holiday season can bring, it will be totally worth it.  On second thought, please eat it.  It’s all the warm and cozy feelings of Fall snuggled up together in a nine-inch pie plate.  It tastes like an ooey, gooey crustless apple pie, and I promise you won’t even miss the crust. The walnuts add the crunch that you might otherwise be missing.  This would be superb atop vanilla ice cream, but it is dangerously delicious all by itself.   

Because this first batch was an experiment, I only made enough for 3 decent sized (aka too small) portions.  If you have a large family, or just want seconds, double the recipe below.  I will be doing that myself this weekend.  I want seconds.  Enjoy everyone!  

  • 2 apples, peeled and sliced
  • 2 pears, peeled and sliced
  • 2 TBS coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (or other nut of choice)
  • cinnamon
  • sea salt

CARAMEL SAUCE:

  • 2 TBS butter (coconut oil might work)
  • 2 TBS raw honey 
  • 3 TBS coconut milk (other milk might work)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp arrowroot powder (thickener)
  • sea salt (3-4 dashes)

Melt butter over medium low heat.  Combine arrowroot and coconut milk and add to butter.  Add all other ingredients and stir for a few minutes as it thickens.  Remove from heat and set aside.

 

  1. Preheat oven to 425*
  2. Grease pie plate (or larger dish if you’re doubling) with 1 TBS of coconut oil
  3. Arrange sliced apples and pears in no particular order
  4. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sea salt
  5. Top with the other TBS of coconut oil (mine was solid, so I broke it up to evenly distribute)
  6. Bake for 35 minutes or until the fruit is tender and turning gold 
  7. Top with walnuts and bake for another 10 minutes
  8. Drizzle caramel sauce all over and allow to sit for a few minutes

 

Our little Juliet – 20 months – happy and healthy!

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Roasted Apples & Pears with Salted Caramel

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Please do me this one favor: lean in, closely, and inhale deeply.  Can you smell it?  Can you smell the spicy cinnamon, the sweet pears, and the toasted walnuts?  Oh, how I wish you could.  I wish this was a scratch and sniff post.  If you only make this dessert for the sake of making your home smell like everything perfect that the holiday season can bring, it will be totally worth it.  On second thought, please eat it.  It’s all the warm and cozy feelings of Fall snuggled up together in a nine-inch pie plate.  It tastes like an ooey, gooey crustless apple pie, and I promise you won’t even miss the crust.  The walnuts add the crunch that you might need.  This would be superb atop vanilla ice cream, but it is dangerously delicious all by itself.  

  

Because this first batch was an experiment, I only made enough for 3 decent sized (aka too small) portions.  If you have a large family, or just want seconds, double the recipe below.  I will be doing that myself this weekend.  I want seconds.  Enjoy, everyone!   

  • 2 apples, peeled and sliced
  • 2 pears, peeled and sliced
  • 2 TBS coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (or other nut of choice)
  • cinnamon
  • sea salt

CARAMEL SAUCE:

  • 2 TBS butter (coconut oil might work)
  • 2 TBS raw honey 
  • 3 TBS coconut milk (other milk might work)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp arrowroot powder (thickener)
  • sea salt (3-4 dashes)

Melt butter over medium low heat.  Combine arrowroot and coconut milk and add to butter.  Add all other ingredients and stir for a few minutes as it thickens.  Remove from heat and set aside.

 

  1. Preheat oven to 425*
  2. Grease pie plate (or larger dish if you’re doubling) with 1 TBS of coconut oil
  3. Arrange sliced apples and pears in no particular order
  4. Sprinkle with cinnamon and sea salt
  5. Top with the other TBS of coconut oil (mine was solid, so I broke it up to evenly distribute)
  6. Bake for 35 minutes or until the fruit is tender and turning gold 
  7. Top with walnuts and bake for another 10 minutes
  8. Drizzle caramel sauce all over and allow to sit for a few minutes

 


Juliet – 20 months 

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Grain-free, Corn-free Cornbread {with Jalapenos & Cheddar}

 

 

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We welcomed our first cool October night and, with that, came rushing thoughts of warm soups, stews, and cocoa.  I settled on making a spicy chili, but in my house, that must be accompanied by something sturdy and dip-worthy.  Saltines are out of the question for us, so I moved on to something even better:  cornbread.  Buttery, crumbly, light and fluffy cornbread.  I’ve never attempted a grain-free cornbread, and I’m happy to report that this did not disappoint!  If ever there was a time to experiment with food, this was it.  My chili needed it.  I looked up a few recipes and gathered ideas, as I most always do, and created my own version.  Even if you’re a grain eater, you will like this cornbread.  

 

There are many possibilities here.  I’ll share a couple with you now.  You may omit the jalapeno and/or cheese and you’ll have a basic cornbread.  If you prefer a sweeter cornbread, simply add a tablespoon or two of honey.  I hope you try this and feel inspired to mix it up to your liking.  Here’s to more cool nights and warm cornbread!   

  •  1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter OR coconut oil, melted (I used butter in this recipe)
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • a few jalapeno peppers, minced (I used jarred)
  • 1/4 cup shredded raw cheddar cheese (freshly grated is best)

 

If you choose to omit the peppers and cheese, increase the sea salt to 1/4 tsp.

 

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350* and line a 9×9 baking dish with parchment paper (or grease well if you prefer).
  2. Mix together dry ingredients.  Add wet ingredients and mix well.  I just stirred with a spoon.
  3. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and bake for 25-35 minutes until the top is golden and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Cool and slice.

Cinnamon Sweet Potatoes

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Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best recipes.  My family eats these sweet potatoes like they are candy straight from heaven.  They are deliciously sweet and perfectly salty.  To me, that’s a winning combination.  I cook them at a high temperature so that they caramelize and get even sweeter, naturally, without adding a pinch of sugar.  We eat these for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and can’t seem to get enough! 


At the bottom, I’ve added an optional crumb topping recipe that adds that festive flare you might be looking for this time of year.   

  

 

Baby Bites:

Once these are cooked and cooled, I cube them along with an avocado.  Juliet (our 19 month old) loves this combination and the good fats from the avocado help balance the blood sugar levels that could be spiked from the sweet potatoes.  The cinnamon is good at helping with that, too.

 

 

  • 3-4 Sweet potatoes (or yams), washed and sliced into 1 inch slices
  • 1 heaping TBS coconut oil (more may be added as needed)
  • sea salt
  • cinnamon

 

  1. Preheat oven to 400*. 
  2. Generously grease a cookie sheet with coconut oil and sprinkle oil with sea salt.
  3. Arrange sweet potato slices on pan and sprinkle with sea salt and cinnamon.
  4. Bake for 25-35 minutes until the side face down is golden.
  5. Flip and sprinkle with more sea salt and/or cinnamon.
  6. Bake for another 10-15 minutes until potatoes are cooked through.

 

 

OPTIONAL Crumb topping:
In a food processor, combine 1/2 cup pecans (or walnuts), 1/4 cup almond flour, 3 tsp coconut sugar, 1/8 tsp sea salt, 2 TBS butter.  Pulse until crumbly.  Sprinkle generously on potato slices after they have baked and been flipped.  Bake for 20 minutes or until browned.

Chocolate Java Smoothie

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In case you’re wondering, I did not share this drink with the curious little girl in the background.:)

 

I used to frequent a certain smoothie chain to satisfy my sweet tooth with their delicious, not-so-nutritious, Java the Nut smoothie.  This drink covered all the necessary bases for me.  Chocolate, coffee, peanut butter, whaaat?!  I mean, really, does it get any better?  No.  I’ll answer for you.  No, it doesn’t.  The downside to drinking this generously titled “smoothie” (should be called milkshake), is the massive amount of sugar I was ingesting.  For years I have been trying to recreate this at home in a way that would fool even me in to believing that I was drinking something I probably shouldn’t be drinking on a weekday morning.  At last, I have succeeded.  I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve been drinking this for over a month now without sharing the goodness with you.  One sip of this ice cold, rich chocolate, nutritious shake and I’m positive you will have forgiven me.

 

If you’re not a coffee drinker, simply omit the coffee.  It’s still delicious! 

 

  • 1 cup unsweetened plain (or vanilla) almond milk
  • 2 TBS almond butter (I use organic raw almond butter with no added sugar)*
  • 1-2 scoops Ultraplex Mediclear protein – chocolate flavor** (see Note and photo below)
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp instant organic coffee OR 1-2 TBS freshly brewed coffee (I’ve used both) 
  • 1/2 banana
  • a few sprinkles of sea salt (trust me)
  • lots of ice 

 

BLEND ALL INGREDIENTS TOGETHER AND ENJOY!

 

*Items sold in our office.

**NOTE: If you’re not a patient and are unable to purchase the chocolate Mediclear protein, feel free to try any other chocolate flavored protein powder.  I have only used Mediclear because it’s very low in sugar, but high in chocolate flavor and vital nutrients.

 

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Almond Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies

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I might need an intervention.  These cookies are quickly becoming the best kind of bad habit.  Somebody stop me!  I canNOT stop making them… or eating them.  They are crispy and chewy, salty and sweet, and the ingredients list will surprise you.  You might just fall in love with them, too.

 


There is something about the classic chocolate chip cookie paired with a cold glass of almond milk that I can’t resist.  It comforts me all the way down to my toes.  We all know that too much of a good (bad) thing can, in this case, make you sick!  Well, this is my solution for that potential problem!  I wish I could bake a batch for each of my fellow cookie lovers and deliver them to your doorstep.  Since that is clearly not an option, this is the next best thing.  Please do me a favor and bake these SOON!

 


Pssssst
… I’ve also created a mock Nutella cookie. 
I’ll be sharing that one in the near future!

 

 

WHAT YOU NEED: (yields 8 -10 cookies)

  • 1.5 cups almond flour (blanched or not – I have used both)
  • 3.5 TBS organic coconut sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-4 TBS water (start with two, stir, and add one TBS at a time as needed)
  • handful of dark chocolate chips (I used half of a Beyond Organic dark chocolate bar with toasted flax seeds, sold in our office)

WHAT TO DO:

  1. Preheat oven to 350* and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients (including chocolate chips) and mix well with a fork carefully clearing the mixture of any lumps.
  3. Add vanilla and TWO TBS of water and mix well.  Mixture should begin to crumble.
  4. Add 1 TBS water and mix again with fork, mashing together to create a dough.  (If dough is still crumbly, add 1 more TBS water)
  5. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and mash to flatten.
  6. Bake for 15-18 minutes until cookies are firm and golden brown on the bottom.  

 

 

Kale Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

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Let’s face it, we all indulged a little (or A LOT) over the holidays… and loved every second.  You probably got right back on track and started the new year with a clean slate and a clean diet, right?  Well, the fact is, not all of us are that disciplined and that’s okay!  It’s all about balance and making one change (or two) at a time, one day at a time.  Here’s an easy to prepare salad that’s slam-packed with nutrients AND flavor!  It’s easy on the eyes, too.  Not a bad combo.

 

Note: If you despise Kale (gasp!), as many people do, this dressing can be used on any type of lettuce.  Additionally, the salad seasonings can be changed to your liking.  What I’m trying to tell you is: this salad is not just ONE salad.  It’s as many salads as you can dream up.  Give it a try!  Oh, and if you’ve never tried Kale, you’re disqualified from the despising Kale category.  Please try it!

 

Dressing:

1 avocado
1/4 cup olive oil
1-2 TBSP lemon juice (start with 1 and add to taste)
1/2 tsp each of:
onion powder
cumin
chili powder
garlic powder (or 1 garlic clove)
sea salt
(add olive oil as needed to reach desired consistency)

 

*Blend all ingredients together and toss with salad of choice.  I make one large salad and the dressing sets wonderfully with the other ingredients as it waits patiently in the refrigerator to be devoured.

 

The kale salad I love includes the following:

 

any kind of kale (dinosaur is my favorite)
red bell pepper
cucumber
red (purple) cabbage
sunflower seeds
I enjoy a sweet element in this salad so I have added raisins OR thinly sliced apple

 

 

One last thing before I go…

 

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Dark Chocolate No-Bake Cookies

Season’s Greetings!  

If anything can motivate me to resurface from a 9 month-long hiatus, it’s my friend (or enemy), dark chocolate.  I love, love, love this time of year and all of the festivities that tag along.  Of course, festivities often include delicious (and dangerous) goodies that can so easily get us off track.  The good news is, it doesn’t have to!  Here are your choices: you can flex your muscles of willpower and feel a bit excluded, you can indulge in the processed white sugar delights and reap the side effects that hit hard later, OR (pick this one!) you can create your own heavenly, guilt-free desserts!

 

I’m not an extremist, so I try to find something that’s a nice balance between sinfully bad for you and so healthy tasting that it’s not worth eating.  Follow me?  My point is, this is the BETTER alternative to some of those BAD (but oh so good) holiday treats.  This particular cookie is not overly sweet since it’s made with dark chocolate, but that’s an easy fix.  Just add more of the brown sugar or honey (or whatever sweetener you choose) a little at a time until it’s just right for you.

 

I had almost all of these ingredients in my kitchen when I set out to create these cookies.  I prepared them while my baby girl was climbing up my legs.  In other words, it’s a quick and easy recipe.  No fuss and very little mess.  How’s that for a happy holiday?  Less time in the kitchen and more time with the ones you love… eating yummy things.

 

 

 

What you’ll need: (yields 8-10 cookies)

~  1/4 cup dark chocolate (chips or any kind of plain dark chocolate bar)
~  1/4 cup steel cut or rolled oats
~  1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
~  2 TBS almond butter
~  1 banana, mashed
~  1 TBS cacao chips* (this is optional… it doesn’t add flavor, but a nice crunch)
~  1 TBS canned coconut milk  
~  1 tsp vanilla extract
~  1/4 tsp sea salt (this creates the salty sweet combo – yum)
~ 1 TBS brown sugar or honey (I tried both and like brown sugar the best) 

How it’s done: 

1. In a small bowl, combine the oats, pecans, and cacao chips.
2. In a small saucepan, combine all other ingredients (EXCEPT banana) and stir together over low heat just until melted, being careful not to burn the chocolate (if you smell it, it’s probably burnt).  Stir continuously until melted and combined.  This mixture will be a thick consistency.  
3. Remove from heat and add banana, mashing and stirring until the mixture is shiny and the lumps are gone.
4. Pour over oats mixture and stir together to create a “dough”.
5. Spoon 8-10 cookies onto parchment paper and place in the freezer for 45 minutes or until firm.
6. I sprinkled shredded coconut over some of mine for a festive look.  

NOTE: Keep frozen until just before serving.  They melt pretty quickly.  I leave mine out for 2-3 minutes before eating and they’re perfect!   

 

 

 

Merry Christmas

from our family to yours!

Raw Cookie Dough Bites

 

Now, I know I’m not the only person who has consumed raw cookie dough once or twice (okay, countless times) against the label warning.  To some, that’s disgusting. To others, a guilty indulgence.  Well, for those rebels who have succumb to this delicious folly, read on.  I’m psyched to share this nutritious (YES – nutritious!) energy bite with you.  If you’re concerned about raw egg, don’t be.  There is no egg in this dough. 

 

This recipe was inspired by my friend, Cindy, who was inspired by another food blogger, and on and on, I’m sure.  We each added our own twist and flavor.  Most of you probably have these ingredients on hand.  If so, you can whip these babies up in a flash… and watch them disappear just as fast.  So indulge, enjoy, and have yourselves a delightful weekend!

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 2 TBS almond butter
  • 1/4 cup coconut butter*
  • 1 TBS honey**
  • 3-4 TBS Greek yogurt (this acts as a binder & adds moisture)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • dark chocolate chips***
  • stevia to taste, if additional sweetener is needed

 

HOW IT’S DONE:

  1. Place dry ingredients in food processor and process until combined.
  2. Add all other ingredients EXCEPT chocolate chips and process until combined.
  3. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Place dough in freezer for 15-20 minutes just until firm. 
  5. Spread dough with rolling pin (or press with fingers) onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Slice into squares. (Or make little cookie dough balls.)
  6. Store in freezer or refrigerator. 

 

* Coconut oil will also work, but will result in a slightly different texture.  You may omit Greek yogurt if using oil.
** You may prefer 2-3 TBS of xylitol in place of honey. 
*** I chopped 2 Beyond Organic chocolate bars with flax seeds.  The seeds added a delicious crunch.

 

 

 

Cilantro Lime Chicken

 

 

Unfortunately {or fortunately}, this chicken was devoured before I had the chance to take a decent “plated” photo of it, so I’ll just use this one of the cooking process.  We all know what grilled chicken looks like, but still… it’s what I do.  Rushing out the door for work?  Have last minute guests coming for dinner?  Hosting a BBQ for the 4th of July?  This is a quick fix for any time crunch dilemma.  Simply let the chicken breasts marinate for as long as possible, forget about it until dinner time, then toss it on the grill {or cast iron skillet}.  Mine marinated for hours because I was busy with baby, but 30-45 minutes would probably do the job.  The chicken becomes so moist and tender from the acidity of the lime and the cilantro creates such a fresh flavor.  I added sides of brown rice with butter {oh yeah} and steamed broccoli.  So simple and absolutely scrumptious. 

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • juice of 1 lime
  • bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • olive oil, approximately 2 TBS
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • sea salt, pepper, garlic salt

 

Sprinkle the chicken with sea salt, pepper, garlic salt on both sides and place in marinating dish or ziplock bag. 
In a small bowl, combine lime juice, olive oil, cilantro, garlic and additional salt.  Pour over chicken and make sure it’s well coated.  Place in refrigerator to marinate.  When ready, grill and enjoy.

Key Lime Pie Pudding

 

 

 

Just in time for Summer, this tart treat made its appearance.  I stumbled upon it in a magazine that I happened to have a moment to thumb through.  And I’m so glad I did.  It took all of three minutes to prepare and it completely satisfied that dessert craving I was having.  I prepared this (and ate half of it) while a hungry baby looked on.  If I had a little more time, maybe 10 minutes extra, I would have prepared an easy crust that would have turned this into an actual pie.  Maybe next time.   Nonetheless, I’m happy to have found a new guilt-free something sweet.

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

- 1 cup plain greek yogurt (I prefer full fat)
- juice & zest of 1 lime
- 1/2 TBS pure vanilla extract
- stevia to taste
- chopped nuts for a little crunch, optional

 

Combine all ingredients & chill.

 

P.S.  You can blame this little cutie for my absence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easy Chicken Salad

 

 

 

As a new mom {that’s still such a surreal statement}, now, more than ever, I’m looking for something quick and easy to prepare and eat.  Up until now, my diet has consisted mainly of green shakes and other basic nutrient-rich foods.  That’s the case for a few reasons: 

 

1) My baby’s health is my top priority… if I consume junk, she does, too.
2) I honestly couldn’t think of anything else to eat where I get so much “bang for my buck” … so why mess with a good thing?
3) Convenience … shakes are fast and filling.

 

These days, I’m busier than ever which means I appreciate finger food type snacks more than ever!  Anything that can be prepared ahead of time and grabbed on the go is all I’m interested in.  This past week I was cooking a current favorite of mine  - chicken and brown rice – and I had a light bulb moment {my sleep-deprived brain is waking up again!}.  I decided to save one of the chicken breasts and use it for a separate and completely different meal.  I’m so glad I did.  It turned out great: simple, light, and summery. 

 

There are a plethora of ways to prepare chicken salad and everyone has a favorite.  This is your classic, no-fuss salad, with a twist.  Enjoy it over fresh greens, atop a slice of toasted Ezekiel bread with spinach and Havarti cheese {that’s what I did}, or all by itself.  Whenever you’re short on time, this is one solution for you.  Hope you like it. 

 

 

WHAT YOU’LL NEED (this was enough for 3-4 servings):

1 large chicken breast, cooked (mine was boiled… grilled would be even better)
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used full fat)
2-3 TBS Vegenaise
2 stalks of celery
1 apple (I used my favorite, Pink Lady)
*optional* 1/2 white onion
sea salt & pepper to taste

 

HOW IT’S DONE:

Chop the cooked chicken, celery, apple, (& onion) as coarse or fine as you prefer.
Add ALL ingredients to a bowl. 
Stir until well combined. 
That’s it! 

 

 

 

What’s Been Cooking

 

I’m sure many of you have noticed the lack of Bite of Life recipes hitting your inbox these days.  That’s because I’ve been consumed with a new project — undoubtedly the greatest “project” of my life.  Our little girl, Juliet, was born peacefully at home on March 2 and is perfect and healthy.  She is an absolute miracle and the love of our lives.  

 

It’s hard to believe that she’s almost 3 months old already!  I appreciate your kind words and understanding as I have taken some time off to get to know my baby girl.  I hope to be back in the kitchen with new ideas – and blogging about it – very soon!  

 

 

1 week old

6 weeks old

10 weeks old

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Veggie Pasta Primavera – Two Ways

 

In case you’ve noticed that I haven’t posted in a while, I apologize.  You see, besides not cooking much these days, I’ve been busy counting down the weeks until I get to meet my sweet baby face to face (only 5-ish to go!).  Somehow, that’s pretty time-consuming… and all-consuming.  I’ve been keeping things relatively simply in the kitchen, drinking lots of smoothies and relying on old faithful quickie recipes.  Please forgive my infrequent posts in the upcoming weeks.  I trust that there are plenty of ideas here on the blog to hold you over.  :)  I promise, as I’m inspired with something new, I will pass it on to you.

 

This simple dish can be prepared with only “noodles” and creamy “alfredo” sauce, keeping it completely RAW (above), OR you can add sauteed veggies and chicken to the mix (below).

 

I used to make this dish with heavy cream, butter, and lots of cheese.  Well, things have changed a bit in my life in the past few years.  I’ve found a new way of enjoying the foods I love and I’m much healthier and happier for it.  I leave you now with the new and improved (and guilt-free) version of this rich and creamy Italian favorite.  Enjoy!

 

WHAT YOU’LL NEED FOR THE “ALFREDO” SAUCE:

  • 2 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 30 minutes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3-4 TBS nutritional yeast
  • 1/2-2 cups liquid (water, veggie broth, or plain unsweetened almond milk – I used water this time)
  • sea salt & pepper, to taste
  • *optional for a more authentic alfredo flavor* 1/4-1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (I did not use)

HOW IT’S DONE:

  • Add all ingredients, with only 1/2 cup liquid, to high speed blender or food processor.   Process on high speed, adding liquid until mixture is completely smooth.  It may take a few minutes and stirs, but it will end up silky smooth.

INGREDIENTS FOR PASTA:

  • 2-4 zucchini and/or squash, sliced with a mandolin slicer or spiral slicer.  Leave skin on.  NO COOKING NECESSARY. 
  • Drizzle with Alfredo sauce and stir together.

 

If you choose to add the sauteed veggies and chicken, here are the veggies that I used:

  • sliced bell pepper (any color)
  • sugar snap peas
  • fresh broccoli chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

 

  • Simply season your chicken with salt, pepper, and any other seasoning you like.  Brown the chicken.  In a separate pan, sautee the veggies in coconut oil until fork tender.  Top your pasta with the veggies and drizzle with sauce and maybe a bit more parmesan cheese.  Mix together and enjoy!

 

Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

These little darlings are all snuggled up and waiting to make someone happy

 

‘Tis the season for baking and giving.  Why not combine the two?  I know how much I enjoy and cherish homemade goodies any time of year, but there’s something extra special about giving (or receiving!) a platter of treats during the holidays.  A lot of Christmas cookies and candies are extremely time-consuming and extremely unhealthy.  This often discourages us from participating in this {in my opinion} lost art. 

 

I adapted this simple recipe from a blog entitled, “The Best I-Hate-Baking Recipe.”  Immediately, that caught my eye.  I actually love baking, but I’m always looking for something simple that actually tastes good.  Whether you hate baking, you think you’re not good at it, or the usual rich contents cause you to shy away, these little cookie-candies might just change your mind.  I promise that you and anyone you share these with will be very impressed that these are hand-crafted, with love, straight from your humble kitchen. 

 

So, I leave you now to tend to your wish lists, holiday parties, and gatherings with family and friends.  May your days be merry and bright and may you have plenty of goodies to share! 

 

Merry Christmas everyone! 

 

My army of delicate macaroons awaiting their chocolate bath.

 

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 & 1/3 cup unsweetend fine coconut flakes
  • 3 TBS gluten-free all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 cup xylitol (or less if you don’t have much of a sweet tooth)
  • Dash of vanilla or almond extract
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 dark chocolate bar (3.5 oz) or chocolate chips
  • 3-5 TBS vanilla almond milk (or as much as you need to help the chocolate melt and make it creamy)

NOTE: The macaroons are delish even without the chocolate!  I recommend leaving some without.

 

HOW IT’S DONE:

  • Set oven to 325*.
  • Combine dry ingredients in medium bowl.
  • Add vanilla and egg whites and mix well.
  • Form little balls (about the size of a silver dollar) and place on parchment-lined (or lightly greased) cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden.  (It’s best to underbake so that they don’t dry out).

TOPPING:

  • While macaroons are cooling, prepare the chocolate sauce. 
  • Combine chocolate and almond milk in a small saucepan and melt on LOW heat, stirring regularly.
  • Once macaroons are cooled, spoon chocolate over them – as much or little as you like!

Dressed and ready to go!

Raw Pumpkin “Cheese”Cake

 

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  On this day, I don’t count calories (not that I ever do that), I don’t dissect every single ingredient in every dish prepared, and I definitely have seconds — of everything.  When you live your day to day life making mindful, health-conscious choices, you can indulge without guilt and with little negative consequence.  It’s all about balance.  Thanksgiving is a time to enjoy your loved ones and to stop and reflect on all the gifts, both great and small, that God gives you every day.  We have SO much to be thankful for.  What’s not to love about a day like that?  And while resting and reconnecting with family and friends, it’s a time to relish in some of the best food you have all year. 

 

Some, however, choose to stay the course and to practice extraordinary discipline throughout the sweet and fat-filled celebration.  I commend you!  That is not an easy feat!  For you, I created this recipe – if you so choose to try it.  It can be completely raw by using Raw Honey instead of xylitol.  You might need to adjust the portion, as honey is much sweeter. 

 

May your holiday be filled with love and laughter!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING from our family to yours.

 

 

For the crust:

  • 2 cups raw almonds, soaked for at least 7 hours or overnight. (allowing them to sprout or “plump”)
  • 7-8 dates, pitted (if dates are really dry, soak them in warm water for 10 minutes before pitting)

 

 HOW IT’S DONE:

  • Place almonds and dates in a food processor and mix until sticky.
  • Lightly grease a 9-inch pan with olive oil.  I wouldn’t use coconut oil because it solidifies as it freezes and will cause the crust to stick.  Press and spread the crust mixture in the pan until completely covered.

 

For the filling:

  • 2 cups raw cashews, soaked for 3 hours
  • 1 can organic pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (this doesn’t need to be warmed or liquified)
  • 1/2 TBS vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 TBS pumpkin pie spice (or more if you like a stronger flavor)
  • 1/2 TBS cinnamon
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup xylitol (taste as you go)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

 

 HOW IT’S DONE:

  • Add all ingredients to a high speed blender or food processor.  The food processor worked better for me.
  • Process until creamy (scraping the sides as needed).
  • Pour filling into the crust and spread evenly.
  • Place in the freezer for 5+ hours to allow to set.  Before serving, allow to thaw until knife slides through easily.  Pie can be kept in the refrigerator once it has completely set. 

  

 

Creamy Broccoli & Cauliflower Soup

 

Originally, this post was going to be about the lovely little roasted French Fingerling Potatoes you see in the picture (that’s the reason they’re in the foreground), but once I tasted the warm, creamy soup, my mind was set in a different direction.  The soup was an experiment from a recipe I used years ago combined with the way I prepare foods today.  To my surprise, it turned out exactly as I had hoped and was the perfect lunch for this cool first day of November.  By the way, the potatoes are out-of-this-world good and a possible future post.

 

 

As always, this soup recipe is open to change.  Feel free to leave out the cauliflower if you don’t like that vegetable.  The soup is still great and packed with powerful nutrients.  Broccoli and cauliflower are cancer fighters, and you all know that spinach is an amazing source of iron.  Spoon it or sip it, just do your best to get this in your diet.  It’s an easy and effective way to strengthen your immune system for the upcoming season.

 

 

 

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1/2 or 1 whole medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 head broccoli, chopped (stems & leaves included)
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped
  • 2 handfuls fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 can organic coconut milk
  • 2-4 cups vegetable broth (it depends on the consistency you prefer)
  • sea salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, to taste

 

HOW IT’S DONE:

  • In a large pot saute the onion and garlic in 1-2 TBS coconut oil or a little vegetable broth until tender.
  • Add broccoli and cauliflower, stir, and cover for approximately 7 minutes or until veggies are just tender.
  • Add spinach, stir, and allow to wilt, approximately 3 minutes. 
  • Remove half of the veggie mixture and process in a food processor or high speed blender until desired consistency is reached.  (I like mine not quite smooth.)
  • Return processed veggies to pot with other veggies and add milk and broth.  Stir together well and cover.  Heat on low for 5-10 minutes.
  • Add seasonings and serve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banana Bread {Gluten-Free}

 

Confession:  I made this banana bread  just yesterday and it’s almost gone today.  However, I will not take full responsibility for its gradual disappearance; I live with a man who has an appetite like I’ve never seen before.  The good news is, you can enjoy this bread without guilt because of its healthful ingredients. 

 

 

If you are one who has eliminated any form of sugar (even natural) from your diet, this recipe isn’t for you.  My goal is to provide recipes that appeal to everyone as a transitional guide from white processed flours and sugars to healthier alternatives.  Some recipes are more extreme than others and this falls somewhere in the middle.  My husband and I believe in sweet treats such as this, in moderation.  It’s not a part of our daily meal plan, but it’s welcomed with open arms – and mouths - on occasion,  especially this time of year.  

 

While this bread is GF (gluten-free) and almost Vegan (the honey disqualifies it), you would never know it.  It is incredibly moist and flavorful.  I added chopped walnuts to mine because I like a little crunch.  If you want something very decadent ( and who doesn’t?), add dark chocolate chips.  Believe me, I would have, and normally do, but my cupboards were bare.  That addition takes the bread to a whole new level.  If you DO add chocolate chips, you can probably decrease the amount of honey.  One more note before I get to the good stuff: I didn’t have enough Bob’s Red Mill flour, so I mixed it with almond flour.  You can do that, too, or just use Bob’s.  I wouldn’t recommend just using almond flour for this recipe.  Ok, here you go. Happy baking!

Recipe adapted from Babycakes

 

 

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill GF All-purpose baking flour (or 1 cup Bob’s/1 cup Almond Flour)
  • 2 tsp baking powder (aluminum-free)
  • 2 tsp baking soda (aluminum-free)
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum (a natural thickener found in health food stores)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted (this takes the place of butter & doesn’t make your bread taste like coconut)
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 6 medium bananas, mashed
  • *optional* 1 cup chopped nuts and/or 1/2-1 cup dark chocolate chips – YUM!

 

 

HOW IT’S DONE: (so easy)

  •  Preheat oven to 325*.  Lightly grease (with coconut oil) a 9.5 x 5.5 inch loaf pan.
  • Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, xanthan gum, sea salt, and cinnamon.
  • Add melted coconut oil, honey, milk, and vanilla to the dry ingredients.
  • Stir until the batter is smooth.
  • Gently fold in mashed bananas until evenly distributed throughout the batter.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Turn the pan 180 degrees and bake for another 20-27 minutes. (Mine baked for 47 minutes total.)
  • Allow the bread to stand in the pan for at least 20 minutes before slicing.

WARNING: Your house will smell SO good. :)

Spicy White Chili

It’s that time, folks.  I’m well aware that it’s still in the 80′s here in Central Florida, but it’s October!  My chili cravings always kick in about this time of year regardless of the temperature outside.  I decided to try something a little lighter than beef chili – a transitional chili, if you will.  This was SO simple and SO delicious.  Anytime you can prepare a meal in one pot and walk away to fold laundry as it cooks,  it’s a win. 

 

I made mine extra spicy by seasoning the chicken with cayenne pepper as I browned it.  That added just the kick that I love.  You have complete control and can make this as mild or hot as you prefer.  I also veered from the all-white chili by adding edamame beans for no other reason than because I like having something green in every meal.  If you don’t like these beans, you can omit them and it really won’t change the flavor.  You might decide to add a cup of sweet corn instead.  As always, be creative and experiment with the foods you love.   

 

 

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 2-4 organic, free-range chicken breasts (or ground turkey)
  • 32 oz. low sodium organic chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 2-3 cans white kidney beans (or any other white bean), drained and rinsed.  Mash one can of beans.
  • 1 cup shelled edamame beans
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you like it spicy like me)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • sea salt & pepper, to taste
  • dried parsely (optional)
  • 1 TBS coconut oil (You can’t taste this in the finished product.)

 

HOW IT’S DONE:

  • Heat the coconut oil in a stock pot and add cubed chicken-breasts.  Add cayenne pepper, garlic powder, sea salt, & pepper and cook until done. 
  • Add chopped bell pepper, onion, and garlic to chicken and allow to cook over medium-high heat for 4-6 minutes.
  • While that cooks, mash one can of beans.  This makes the soup a little creamy. 
  • Add broth, water, beans, chili powder, & parsley to chicken mixture and bring to a boil. 
  • Reduce heat, cover, and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes. 
  • Add more of the seasonings as needed. 

Roasted Beets

 

The teasing of fall weather has left me searching for any source of “comfort” food with an autumn leaf hue.  I had dreams just last night of shades of trees that we rarely see here in Florida; the rich orange, purple, red, and gold leaves that have me longing for a trip to a mountain town. 

 

I’m always encouraging others to try things they have never tried because they might be surprised that they actually like it.  Well, with this gorgeous beetroot, it was my turn to be open-minded and branch out.  I have tasted beets in the past in a variety of ways, but I have never prepared it myself nor have I been a fan of it.  In the interest of expanding my pallet and adding incredible nutrition to my body {and my growing baby’s body}, I gave it another try.  And, you know what?  I enjoyed it.  Having the understanding, on a cellular level, of what I’m putting in my body truly makes a difference as well. 

 

Here are a few beetroot FUN FACTS:

  • Great blood builder.
  • Excellent source of folic acid (a B vitamin), especially important for pregnant women. (Like me!)
  • Has cholesterol lowering properties.
  • Beetroot juice has been shown to lower blood pressure.
  • Promotes healthy liver function, helping fats break down efficiently and, in turn, aiding weight loss.

 

Some people love eating raw beets, which is the best possible way to eat them, but I’m not there yet.  For me, it’s certainly an acquired taste.  In the interim, I’ll have mine roasted, please.     

 

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 3 whole beets, peeled and stems/leaves discarded
  • 1-2 TBS coconut oil (I would start with one and add if needed)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (or 1 clove, minced)
  • 1 TBS apple cider vinegar
  • sea salt & pepper to taste

 

HOW IT’S DONE:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Cut beets into cubes.
  • Toss all ingredients together and place in an oven safe dish.
  • Cover and bake for 50-60 minutes or until desired tenderness is reached. (Remove from oven and stir after 25 minutes.)

 

 

 

 

 

Sesame Kale Salad

 

First and foremost, I must apologize for my absence.  It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted any new recipe ideas.  I do believe, however, that I have a pretty good excuse.  For those of you who have not heard, my husband and I are expecting our first baby!  We are completely overjoyed, of course, and I am adjusting to daily changes in my body.  The first few months left me zero desire to step foot in my kitchen to eat anything worthy of sharing and much less, cook anything. 

 

Now, it seems, I have entered a new phase and I feel fantastic.  I find myself craving lots of green shakes and other nutritious foods.  As you can imagine, this makes me very happy.  There is nothing I want more than a healthy, happy baby.  So, I am doing my part to ensure that I am giving our precious little one everything it needs. 

 

This week, I was very interested in Kale.  Raw kale.  Many people, including myself, typically enjoy Kale cooked a little.  Well, not this week.  I decided to try something I haven’t tried before.  It turned out to be quite pleasant and the nutritional benefits (tons of iron) cannot be beat.  You can add anything you want to this salad; I left it pretty simple.  Feel free to experiment and add a little sweetness if you’d like.  Next time I might add raisins or berries. 

 

 

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 bunch of kale (any kind), washed and chopped
  • 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1/4 or 1/2 lime (depending of the tartness level you prefer)
  • sea salt (or garlic salt) to taste
  • sprinkle of sesame seeds and/or berries

HOW IT’S DONE:

  • Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, stirring well to combine flavors.
  • Allow to sit in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.  This softens the kale just a bit.

 

 

Peach Cobbler {minis}

The only thing missing from this dessert (or breakfast) is a scoop of healthy vanilla bean ice cream.  Even without it, this is buttery and sweet perfection.  It’s so good served warm straight from the oven, but it’s also good a little later.  The crumbly topping hardens a little and creates the perfect crunch against the tangy and soft peach.  I’ve been craving the pretty little peach this summer and have certainly enjoyed it in the raw.  However, this twist on comfort food was so heavenly.  I’ll be making it again and again.  Next time, with the ice cream!

 

         WHAT YOU’LL NEED (makes 4 minis):
        
*recipe adapted from Joy the Baker

  •  2 peaches
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup xylitol
  • 6 TBS muesli (or oats) uncooked
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • dash or two of sea salt
  • 2 TBS chopped nuts (I used almonds and pecans)
  • 2 TBS cold raw butter, cubed
  • *optional* 1 TBS raw honey

     

    HOW IT’S DONE:

  • Preheat oven to 350*
  • Slice peaches and remove pits and scoop out red center.  
  • In a small bowl, combine flour, xylitol, muesli, salt, cinnamon, and nuts
  • Add butter and work the butter into the dry ingredients while breaking it up with your fingers.
  • If your adding honey, add it now and stir to incorporate.
  • Place peach halves, cut side up, in an oven-safe dish.
  • Top each peach with a generous portion of crumble topping.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until topping is golden.
  • Serve warm.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Dark Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

It was NOT easy to get a decent photo of this smoothie without it looking like mud, so I focused more on the bright colors and the fun bendy straw. :)  Besides, we all know what smoothies look like, don’t we?  I have seen so many chocolate cherry recipes popping up lately so I decided to get on the bandwagon.  I love the combo of the tart cherries and bittersweet chocolate, especially in the summer.

 

Also, I have a confession.  I haven’t been very diligent at filling my quota of fresh greens during the day.  Because of that, I snuck an avocado into this smoothie to start the week off right.  Now you don’t have to do that; it’s completely optional.  However, it is a great addition of healthy fats to your day and you can’t taste it.  So, why not?

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup (maybe a little more) unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 TBS  organic cocoa powder
  • 1 cup (give or take) frozen organic cherries
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 scoop berry protein (optional)
  • ice, if needed
  • dash of stevia or honey
  • 

Blend away!

 

 

Easy Egg Salad

You may laugh at the simplicity of this post, but this is the summery salad that I often forget about.  It’s SO simple and most of you probably have your own egg salad recipe.  But, for those of you who don’t, here is the easiest sandwich you could possibly whip up this summer.  As always, there are many variations, including deviled-egg salad.  I’ll post a few options below.  Maybe you can try it a new way!  Enjoy it on greens as a cool salad or on a piece of toasted Ezekiel (or any gluten & wheat free) bread.

 

What you’ll need:
(makes 2-3 sandwiches)

  • 4 hard-boiled organic, free-range eggs
  • 1 TBS (or less) Vegenaise
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • sea salt/pepper to taste

OPTIONAL:
1 TBS celery, finely chopped
1 TBS sweet relish
1 tsp paprika
dash of stevia

How it’s done:

  1. Mash hard-boiled eggs in a bowl.
  2. Add all ingredients and stir together. 

 

 

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

We could all use a little sunshine right now.  The rain has been great, and much needed, but it’s nice to see those rays come peaking through the clouds.  Here I present to you sunshine in a bowl.  To me, strawberries evoke feelings of cheerfulness and summertime.  This is a delightful treat that is so fresh and simple to prepare.  Hopefully, it will be a bright spot in your otherwise cloudy day.  It sure was for me.

 

I’m sorry its been a while since my last post.  My husband and I took some time off to relax together and celebrate my 33rd birthday.  It was a great time, but I’m happy to be back in my routine and in my kitchen. 

 

If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you might try just freezing the mixture for a little while, then blending in it your blender.  Last summer, I purchased a small 2 Qt Cuisinart machine from Bed, Bath & Beyond for about $50.  It was a great investment.  I use it all the time!  It’s nothing fancy, but works great. 

 

What you’ll need:  (serves 2)

  • 12 oz plain Greek yogurt ( I used Fage brand 2%)
  • 1/4 cup xylitol (or stevia… amount will be different)
  • 1 cup diced organic strawberries, divided (Not 1 cup whole strawberries.  Dice first, then measure)
  • dash sea salt
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • Approx. 3 TBS Almond milk (or any liquid – I only had coconut water); add enough to allow the mixture to blend.   

How it’s done:

  • Add yogurt, xylitol (or stevia), salt, vanilla, 1/2 cup strawberries to blender.  Add liquid a little at a time and blend until smooth.
  • Add the remaining strawberries and stir together just to incorporate. 
  • Place in a container in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to allow to get really cool.
  • Pour in ice cream maker and follow machine instructions.
  • Serve immediately. 

Stuffed Chicken {with Spinach, Goat Cheese, & Sundried Tomatoes}

When I was much younger, I took a few cooking classes and learned how to prepare Chicken Cordon Bleu.  I thought I was Miss Fancypants anytime I cooked that special dish for friends or family… and so did they!  That’s because it looks (and tastes) pretty complex.  Well, I haven’t made that in about 15 years, but it was the inspiration and education behind this easy chicken dish.  Fresh herbs and sun-dried tomatoes are a delicious summertime duo.  So, that was my starting point.  Add creamy goat cheese (or feta or mozzarella) to the mix and you’ve got yourself a dynamite meal!  Bonus: this only takes about 15 minutes to prepare.  Just about anything you can dream up can be rolled up into a chicken breast for a satisfying meal.

 

Here are some alternative stuffings for you:
Red bell pepper in place of sun-dried tomatoes
Kale or chopped broccoli in place of spinach
Pine nuts or walnuts, chopped, for extra crunch
Your favorite cheese (or no cheese!) in place of goat cheese

 

 

YOU WILL NEED:
This recipe serves 2.  Increase ingredients as needed. 

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • Handful of fresh spinach, finely chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2-3 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 4 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (I used tomatoes packed in olive oil, but rinsed and dried them before cooking)
  • 2 TBS goat cheese
  • sea salt & pepper
  • toothpicks

HOW IT’S DONE:

  • Preheat oven to 350* and lightly grease (with coconut oil) an oven-safe baking dish.
  • Chop all veggies first.  Combine spinach, garlic, basil, and cheese in a small bowl.  Mix with a fork until cheese is distributed well.
  • Butterfly the chicken breasts if they are thick, but don’t cut completely in half. 
  • Tenderize the breasts by laying plastic wrap over them and “beating” them lightly with a tenderizer (or anything with a little weight).  I used a hammer.  Seriously.
  • Flip the breasts, cover again with plastic wrap, and “beat” the other side.  (You want the chicken to be somewhat flat, but not so thin that it tears.)
  • Sprinkle both sides with sea salt & black pepper.
  • Spread a spoonful (as much or little as you want) of the spinach mixture in each breast.  Then add sun-dried tomatoes down the middle. 
  • Roll the breasts up and secure them with a toothpick.
  • Here comes an option for you: I “flash-fried” my chicken in a little coconut oil to achieve the beautiful golden outside before baking it.  This is NOT necessary.  If you choose to do it, just turn the burner heat up high, and cook the breasts on each side for about a minute.  Or you can skip ahead to the final step…
  • Place the chicken in the prepared baking dish and cook for 25-30 minutes.  Remove toothpicks and serve.

 

Cherry Blueberry Upside-Down Cake

Dessert for dinner anyone?  This high protein, low sugar cake is what I just had for dinner.  Now, that’s not typical, but for the sake of this post, I had to taste it.  I do it all for you.  Convinced?  I will probably have a slice for breakfast, too.  It serves many purposes and it’s SO good.  :)  It’s delicious and moist and I can’t wait for you to try it.  Next time I might add some dark chocolate chips or lemon zest and use blackberries instead of blue.  You’ll see, there are many possibilities here.  The original recipe that inspired me only called for cherries, but I wanted to fill the spaces with blueberries.  That’s how my flavor was born.  

  

You might also notice my new blog design.  I hope you like it.  It’s still a work in progress, so please bear with us as we do some finishing touches.  I’m so excited for a fresh new face here at Bite of Life.  It was time for change and I’m so pleased with the result.  Thanks for reading along and leaving such gracious comments as you try the recipes!  It is greatly appreciated! 

 

 

INGREDIENTS:
Recipe adapted from roostblog

  • 3 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted (this doesn’t make the cake taste like coconut)
  • 1/2 cup xylitol (this makes the cake very sweet; use a little less if you prefer less sweet desserts)
  • 1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and halved
  • handful of fresh blueberries (optional)

HOW IT’S DONE:

  1. Preheat oven to 350* and generously grease a bundt pan or cake pan.  (I used a 5×9 loaf pan)
  2. Put cherries/blueberries in the bottom of the greased pan.
  3. Combine flour, salt, baking soda, and xylitol in a medium bowl.
  4. Combine eggs, oil, and vanilla in a small bowl.
  5. Combine wet and dry ingredients until mixed well.
  6. Pour batter over cherries and spread evenly.
  7. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and knife comes out clean if inserted.
  8. Allow to cool for 30 minutes in pan.
  9. Place a plate or platter on top of pan and flip.  Cake should slide out.  (I had to use a knife around the edges to loosen it first.)

 

Raspberry Sorbet Smoothie

There is no sorbet in this smoothie, but it sure tastes like it!  I think this is a great brunch smoothie.  There’s no added protein, so I wouldn’t recommend it as a post workout or meal replacement smoothie, but it is deliciously refreshing.  The ingredients here are very similar to the pineapple lemonade I posted previously.  I’m kind of stuck on adding cucumber and basil leaves to every smoothie.  Surprisingly, they all taste different depending on the fruit you add.

I know I just posted Sweet Potato Cookies, but I thought you might relish a cool treat to sip while you’re going about your business this weekend… no matter what you’re doing, you know it’s going to be hot.  This cuts the heat just a smidge.  Enjoy!

Happy Friday everyone!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 avocado** (Trust me, you can’t taste it, but it makes the smoothie creamy and dreamy!)
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • a few basil leaves *optional*
  • 1 cup water or coconut water (I used Aloe Water because that’s all I had)
  • handful of raspberries, fresh or frozen (about 1/4 cup)
  • stevia to taste (this cut the tartness)

Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender for best results.

**If you are one who HATES avocados, smoothies are a great way to introduce this healthy fat to your diet.  You cannot taste them when they’re blended with other things.  It’s also a great way to feed them to a child who is a picky eater.  Just a thought…

Sweet Potato Cookies {with Walnuts}

Don’t judge a cookie by its crumble.  These may not be the prettiest cookies you’ve ever seen, but their buttery sweetness gets you hooked.  I stumbled upon a version of this recipe and just had to try it.  The original recipe called for chocolate chips, which would be oh so yummy, but I switched it up a little and decided to add walnuts.  That was a good decision.

I used an almond/coconut flour combo because that’s all I had on hand and it created a muffin-like texture to the cookies.  Next time, I’ll use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten free flour for a more authentic cookie texture.  Either way you choose to go, I’m sure these will be a healthy hit in your house!

INGREDIENTS:
*yields about 9 fat cookies*

WET INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 stick raw butter, softened or melted (about 4 TBS) OR 4 TBS coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup cooked sweet potato, mashed (about 1 regular sized potato)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 3 TBS coconut sugar crystals (*not a wet ingredient, but will be added to wet)
  • dash of stevia for additional sweetness, if desired

DRY INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/4 cups gluten free all-purpose flour OR almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • handful of walnuts, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to *350 and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, mix together butter & egg.  Add remaining ingredients listed under “WET”.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients.
  4. Add dry to wet a little at a time until well incorporated.
  5. Scoop cookie dough on to baking sheets as rounded TBS.
  6. Cook for 10-12 minutes or until golden.
  7. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes to allow them to set.

**NOTE: If you prefer no sugar, just use stevia.  I used both.  I tasted the batter before scooping into cookies and added stevia as needed.  Remember that the cookies lose some sweetness as they bake.**

Cheese & Herb Crackers {with Almond Flour}

I cannot stop nibbling on these little babies.  It’s a good thing they’re healthy and high in protein!  I never thought I would make my own crackers, but the ease and adaptability of this recipe was so hard for me to resist.  Today, I made these with freshly grated raw cheddar cheese & chives because that just goes so well together, but the photos show a rosemary & thyme version.  I’m leaving on a jet plane tomorrow and this salty snack will be in my bag.  I’ll do anything to avoid the odious plane food I’m offered!  What better way is there to travel than with my own nutritious {yet satisfying} snacks?

I’ll share with you the basic recipe and you can add anything that makes your heart happy.  The cheesy bites I made today are my favorite so far.  I guarantee that your kids will love these!  Forget about the preservative and poison-packed cheez-nibs you find on the grocery store shelves.  Kids will forget those greasy snacks ever existed and will be on their way to making better food choices, too.

I posted a couple of prep pictures because it might be easier to follow that way.  Don’t get scared off by the rolling pin.  If I can do this, trust me, you can, too.

  

INGREDIENTS:
(Recipe adapted from Caitlin at Roostblog.com)

  • 1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • up to 3 TBS water
    For cheddar cheese crackers, add the following:
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup freshly grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 TBS chives, diced
  • Optional: dash or two of garlic powder
  1. Preheat oven to 350* and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Combine flour, salt, cheese, herbs.  Stir together.
  3. Add water, 1 TBS at a time, stirring after each TBS.  You may only need 2 TBS.
  4. When dough is formed, place on lined baking sheet and cover with another sheet of parchment paper.
  5. Roll (on top on paper) until dough is cracker thin. (whatever that means to you)

6. Slice dough with knife to create cracker shapes.

7. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool, then break apart.

*TIP: The edges tend to be much thinner than the middle, so it helps to trim all of the edges (not shown).  That way, the thickness is consistent throughout.







Kale & Quinoa

Let’s start the week off right.  We all know, one good choice leads to another.  If you have something like this in the beginning of the week, you’ll most likely make more health-concious choices going forward.  This little combo is a complete meal.  If it’s not filling enough for you (I can’t imagine it wouldn’t be), add another veggie side dish, like sweet carrots with basil (see previous post) or a crisp salad with a healthy dressing (future post!).  If you don’t have the luxury of eating lunch at home, this is also a fantastic dinner option.  The cherry on top?  It’s so quick and easy to prepare… AND all in one pot.  Lovely.

We all have things to do on a busy Monday, so I won’t keep you any longer.  Read ahead and have a wonderfully delicious week!

  

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6-8 Kale leaves, removed from thick part of stem (for faster cooking)
  • 1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth, 1 cup water (or 2 cups broth)
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed or minced
  • sea salt to taste
  1. In a large saucepan, combine quinoa, garlic and broth and bring to a boil.  Turn heat to low & cover.
  2. Cook for 6 minutes, then add kale leaves (roughly torn) by just placing them on top of quinoa.  DO NOT STIR. 
  3. Cover and cook for another 6-8 minutes or until quinoa is completely cooked and broth is absorbed.
  4. Sprinkle with sea salt, stir and enjoy.

See how easy that was?!  :)

Sweet Carrots with Basil

In honor of this gorgeous Spring weather, I made rabbit food.  Caramelized rabbit food.  Our lunch was so beautiful and bright today, both in my kitchen and out my kitchen window.  This 3-ingredient recipe was  deliciously paired with a Kale Quinoa creation {I’ll post that soon!}.  My only regret was not making enough for seconds!  I don’t often make carrots, but now that I’ve tried this, I will undoubtedly repeat it. 


Also, I’m using any excuse these days to use basil.  I have a beautiful basil plant that was gifted to me and I use it’s sweet leaves daily.  I put it in my smoothies, add it to veggies and soups, and I even chop it up and put it atop a frozen (Amy’s Organic) pizza when I’m having a vacation meal.  But enough about the ingredients, let me tell you how it’s done. 

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 10-12 carrots, peeled and ends trimmed
  • 1-2 TBS coconut oil (or raw butter – I used coconut oil)
  • handful (5-6 leaves) fresh basil, chopped
  1. Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium OR medium-high heat. 
  2. Add sliced carrots to oil. (I sliced mine diagonally because I’m fancy. :))
  3. Stir until coated in oil and sprinkle with sea salt.
  4. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occassionally, making sure they brown & caramelize, but don’t burn.
  5. When they are fork-tender and browned, sprinkle with basil, toss, and remove from heat.

Pecan Pie Bites {with dark chocolate chips}

I promised you dessert and I delivered!  Besides satisfying the after-lunch/dinner craving for something sweet, this easy little snack is a great pre-workout treat.  The main ingredient is medjool dates, affectionately referred to as “nature’s candy”.  I have fallen head over heels for dates.  I eat them in my cereal, I saute them with spinach, and now, they are my dessert.  To me, these taste just like pecan pie.  I made up a little crust that is completely unnecessary.  Although, if you have a little extra time, you should try it.  It adds that buttery element that pecan pie needs.  I love them and they love me right back. :)

I made two different types of Pecan Pie Bites just to see which worked better.  The first batch was made without coconut oil and they were my favorite.  The only problem is, they were much softer and stickier than the bites with coconut oil.  If you don’t mind sticky, then go with those.  However, if you are making it as a go-to snack before a workout, definitely add the coconut oil.  That ingredient is a slowly released energy source that will help keep you going strong throughout your training.  Dates + Coconut Oil = AWESOME workout fuel!

 

 

INGREDIENTS: (makes 8-10 pecan pie bites or balls)

  •  8-10 Medjool dates, pitted and sliced in half
  • 1/2-3/4 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-2 TBS unsweetened almond milk (work your way up to 2, gradually adding as needed)
  • dash (or two) of sea salt
  • *OPTIONAL* 1 TBS coconut oil
  • *OPTIONAL* handful dark chocolate chips
  1. Add all ingredients to a food processor (or blender) and blend until smooth or as smooth as you like it.  NOTE: You will have to stop processing every few seconds and scrape down from the sides.  Add almond milk as needed to reach desired consistency.
  2. It helps to scoop the mixture into a bowl and allow to chill in the fridge for 20-30 minutes (or freezer for less time) before shaping them into bites, bars or balls. 
  3. 

INGREDIENTS FOR “CRUST”:

I did not intend to share the crust with you, so I didn’t measure my ingredients very well.  If you decide to try it, I don’t think you could really mess it up.

  • 4-6 TBS almond flour
  • 1/2 TBS raw (Amish) butter, melted
  1. I combined the two ingredients and formed a dough, adding a little more of each as needed. 
  2. I spread it out like a pizza dough on a foil-lined toaster oven tray.
  3. Toasted/baked on 350* for 7-10 minutes. 
  4. Crumble the crust (it will fall apart easily) and roll the balls/bites until covered.

Sesame Green Beans

This isn’t as exciting as my previous post (Dark Chocolate Brownies), but variety is the spice of life and  I thought a more nutritious post was due.  Don’t worry though, I’ve got a few delicious, healthy sweet treats up my sleeve that I’ll be sharing very soon! 

In the meantime, I present to you the mighty green bean.  I’ll admit, green beans are not my favorite vegetable.  I definitely prefer the Caramelized Brussels Sprouts or Cauliflower (and Broccoli) Gratin.  However, there’s that variety issue again.   So many of us get stuck in a routine and eat the same foods over and over.  This could be because A) it’s just easier to eat what you’re familiar with and can prepare blindfolded, or B) you might not be the most adventurous eater and choose to stay in the safe zone.  Both are completely fine and understandable.  This is where I come in.  I happen to love trying new things, both in cooking and eating.  I do my best to bring simple, transitional recipes to you in hopes of expanding your pallet and getting you excited about trying new things… in a healthy, nutritious way.  Not only that, but when we eat the same things day in and day out, our bodies develop food sensitivities against those foods we love, and they can actually begin causing inflammation that prevents us from absorbing the nutrients they were designed to release.  Hence, the focus on variety in today’s post.  This is the most important reason to try new things, and why I made green beans today instead of broccoli.

This Asian-inspired recipe is great with any protein, brown rice or quinoa.  See you soon… for dessert!

 

 INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 1 TBS Braggs Liquid Aminos
  • 1 tsp raw honey (or stevia)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1  1/2 tsp sesame seeds
  1. Steam green beans until crisp-tender, 5-7 minutes.
  2. While beans cook, mix together all other ingredients in a bowl. 
  3. Immediately transfer beans to mixture and stir until coated. 

 

Dark Chocolate {Cherry} Brownies

This is probably the easiest brownie recipe I have ever tried.  Everything is prepped in one pot, then poured into a baking dish.  That’s it!  This is an adaptation of the black and white cake recipe over at elanaspantry.com.  If you have a sweet tooth and need some chocolate NOW, this recipe is just for you.  I was in the mood to bake (and in the mood for chocolate), but I haven’t been food shopping, so I used what I could find in my kitchen.  That’s sometimes more fun than following a recipe anyway. 

Elana’s recipe calls for white and dark chocolate, which I have tried and it is amazing.  However, I try to limit my sugar intake during the week, so I “cleaned it up” a bit.  You can use dark chocolate OR, what I did since I don’t have dark chocolate just lying around the house (unfortunately!), is use Macasure bars.  These are a product of Sequel Naturals (the Vega line) and can be found in health food stores or in our office, when in stock.  If you prefer vegan baking altogether, just use carob chips.  I also wanted a little crunch in mine, so I added chopped almonds and cherries (frozen and thawed).  That is completely optional and the brownies are just as moist and delicious without anything added. 

Lastly, because I don’t use white sugar, I do recommend that you taste the batter before you bake it to ensure that it’s sweet enough for you.  The batter tends to taste sweeter before it’s baked, so keep that in mind.  Now, on to the recipe…

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips or a 6 oz bar.  (OR 2 macasure bars)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (canned)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda (aluminum free)
  • 3 TBS xylitol or powdered stevia to taste (I used some of each)
  • OPTIONAL: handful of chopped nuts and/or cherries.
  1. Preheat oven to 350* and grease an 8×8 inch pan with coconut oil.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt chocolate and coconut milk over very low heat.
  3. When chocolate is completely melted, remove from heat.
  4. Stir eggs into chocolate mixture.
  5. Stir in almond flour, salt, baking soda, and xylitol/stevia.
  6. Fold in any nuts, additional chocolate, or fruit you want. 
  7. Pour batter into baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool before slicing.
  9. NOTE: I had to let mine cool almost completely because they were so moist.  Once they cooled, they cut easily. 

Pineapple Lemonade

This time of year I spend my free weekends at the beach.  It’s not too hot, not too cool, but the perfect breezy temperature.  I always crave tropical fruits around this time, too — especially pineapple.  This fruity drink is so tasty and refreshing that it’s almost like a pina colada, without the guilt of too much artifiicial sugar (or alcohol)!  By adding the cucumber (one of the most alkalizing foods you can eat) to the pineapple, it helps to balance out the acidity.  It’s more tart than sweet, so I added stevia to mine.  I also had MCT Colada oil on hand (we sell this in our office), so I added a teaspoon of that.  Wow!  Every frosty sip made me feel like I was on the coast of somewhere beautiful…

  

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup fresh pineapple
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup water (OR coconut water)
  • stevia to taste
  • handful of ice 

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth and frosty.  Sip away!

Crispy Chicken Tenders

I’ve never met a kid who doesn’t like chicken fingers or chicken nuggets, have you?  Well, here’s a 30-something who never grew out of that phase, and I would be willing to bet I’m not the only one who didn’t.  However, if the tenders or nuggets are too childish for you, chicken breasts (or thighs or wings) can be prepared the exact same way.  I happen to get a kick out of all things miniature, so for me, the smaller the bite, the better. 

The fantastic thing about these super healthy tenders is that that they’re baked, not fried, like you traditionally find in restaurants.  The secret to the extra crispy coating is double dipping them in the egg wash and seasoned coating.  I’ll explain in the directions below. 

Also, they can be seasoned endless ways.  I like mine spicy, so I seasoned the chicken with sea salt and ground red pepper before coating them.  On top of that, I seasoned the “crumbs” with garlic powder, paprika, and crushed basil for a more grown-up flavor.  You don’t have to do that.  You can keep it as Plain Jane as you prefer.  The crunchy, delicious result will still be achieved.  I hope your child, and your inner child, thoroughly enjoy this fun meal like I did.

INGREDIENTS: (for 2 chicken breasts cut into strips)

  • 2 organic, free-range chicken breasts, cut into nuggets or strips (or not) 
  • 2 cups crispy brown rice cereal (I use Erewhon’s gluten free, organic – don’t worry, it’s not sweet)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened nut milk (I used unsweetened original almond milk)
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp of any seasonings you like (sea salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, crushed basil, etc)
  1. Preheat oven to 400* and grease a cookie sheet.
  2. Put cereal and all seasonings in a food chopper or processor and grind until it’s as coarse or fine as you like it. Set aside in a medium bowl or plate, something for easy coating.
  3. Create your egg wash by whisking together egg, egg white, milk in a smaller dish just until combined. 
  4. Evenly sprinkle sea salt on chicken. (Here’s where I added ground red pepper, too.)
  5. Dip each tender in egg wash, then cereal crumb mixture, then back to egg wash, and one last dip in the crumb mixture.  (*TIP* I used tongs for this process to keep my hands clean.)
  6. Place tenders on cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes.  Turn over, using tongs, and bake for approximately 10 more minutes.

*NOTE* If you’re making nuggets, you will probably need 4-6 minutes LESS baking time.

Spicy Baked Chickpeas

 

These crunchy chickpeas (also known as Garbanzo beans) are a fun and healthy snack that you can whip up in a pinch!  When you have that craving for something salty and crispy, this will definitely hit the spot.  AND, I literally had these prepped and in the oven in 3 minutes.  Before you know it, the house if full of spicy aromas and popping peas!  (Just kidding, but I did have a couple pop up when I pulled them out of the oven!) 

Many of you have requested kid-friendly recipes, so I’m doing my best to post a few.  If you leave out the red pepper in this recipe, kids will love it!  You can add any of your favorite seasonings, too.  Cumin and paprika happen to be a couple of my favorites, but there are so many others to choose from.  Get creative!  It’s snack time! 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas or garbanzo beans
  • 2 TBSP coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • sprinkling of ground red pepper
  • sea salt, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400* and line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Drain, rinse, and dry the chickpease.  (I rolled them around in a kitchen towel.)
  3. Combine oil and all seasonings in a medium bowl. 
  4. Add chickpeas and toss to coat evenly.
  5. Transfer peas to the baking sheet and spread them out in a single layer.
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden and crispy.  *Remove them from the oven after 15 minutes and give them a shake.*

Creamy Asparagus Soup

Green is my favorite color.  The color of this soup is so vibrant that it makes me smile.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t just love the soup because it’s green; I love it because of the incredible nutritional benefits its main ingredient offers.  I used to detest asparagus.  Over the years I have found new ways to enjoy it.  This is one that made me a big fan once again.  Read below for 8 reasons you, too, should love asparagus:

  1. It can detoxify our body.
  2. It has anti-aging functions.
  3. It is considered to be an aphrodisiac.
  4. It can protect against cancer.
  5. It reduces pain and inflammation.
  6. It can prevent osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
  7. It reduces the risk of heart disease.
  8. It can help prevent birth defects.

Isn’t that amazing?  God has given us all of the nutritional and medicinal properties we might need in the fruits and vegetables found here on this beautiful, green earth.  As I prepare the foods that my husband and I eat, I try to be very conscious of the healing functionalities within them.  It honestly helps me to appreciate and enjoy the foods much more when I know that I’m doing something great for my body, and even more so when I have an understanding of exactly what role(s) each food plays.

There are a few steps involved in this soup, but they are so simple.  Also, there are many variations you can apply.  I’ll try to list any that you might like.  Here’s to green soup!

  • 1 bundle of  fresh asparagus, chopped in half
  • 1 leek or bundle of green onions, chopped (about 1/8 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, whole
  • 2-3 kale leaves (or handful of spinach)
  • 1 cup raw cashews (to create the “cream”) OR 1 cup coconut/almond milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • paprika, sea salt, pepper, to taste
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt 1 TBS coconut oil.  Add leek or onion and saute for 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add halved asparagus and cover.  Allow to cook for 5-7 minutes until just tender.
  3. While asparagus cooks, make your cashew cream.  Blend 1 cup water and 1 cup cashews in blender, until smooth. 
  4. Add cooked asparagus & leek/onion (setting some aside for garnish or texture), garlic, kale/spinach, and 1 cup broth to blender (with the cream).
  5. Blend until smooth and creamy.
  6. Transfer to saucepan and slowly heat, adding seasonings and remaining broth (plus more if needed).
  7. :) Smile!

Cucumber & Goat Cheese Salad

This little salad has a BIG impact on me.  It makes me weak in the knees.  Alright, I’m being a bit dramatic, but I absolutely love celebrating foods in their natural state.  Cucumbers are a great Spring vegetable, so crisp and cool, and highly alkaline to help keep you hydrated and balanced.  I crave them this time of year.  I made up this super easy salad because I was so hungry and was so short on time (and my cupboards were bare!).  When I took my first bite, it was more than I hoped it would be… sweet, tangy, spicy, salty, crunchy… you get the picture.  When you add the creamy goat cheese… forget about it.  Yum.  So if you’re in a rush and want a simple, satisfying and healthful meal, you should definitely try this.  I bet you’ll swoon. :)

 INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large cucumber (English or other)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Raw goat cheese, as much or little as you like
  • sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste
  1. Peel and slice cucmber.
  2. Add all ingredients except cheese & stir together well.
  3. Sprinkle with cheese and stir to incorporate.

Banana Pudding (In the Raw)

If it seems that I’ve been M.I.A., well, I have been.  In case you haven’t heard (or seen), we have finally moved into our new “home” at Y360 Health.  I have been consumed with getting our beautiful new clinic up and running.  We are so excited about this new chapter!  Please stop by and check it out if you haven’t already done so.  Now, on to the good stuff…

I’m a Southern girl through and through.  One thing that I grew up eating a lot of, especially during the warmer months, is banana pudding (or puddin’).  It’s been challenging at times to walk away from these delicious traditions filled with sugar and cream.  While I do indulge on occasion, I try my best to save such treats for special times.  In the interim, I create healthy and nutritious substitutes to satisfy my cravings.  Lately, I’ve been craving banana pudding.  There was no way I was going to use pudding packs, white sugar, and vanilla wafer cookies in my recipe.  So, I turned to the food that I am currently enamored with: the cashew nut.  I had a vision and it worked!  I love when that happens!  The best thing about this recipe (besides how yummy it is) is that it took me 5 minutes to prepare.  I hope you take the time this weekend to treat yourself to this classic southern dessert and feel guilt-free about it! 

INGREDIENTS: (approximately 3 servings)

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 3/4 or 1 cup unsweetened vanilla (or plain) almond milk (start with 3/4 and add as needed)
  • 2 bananas
  • stevia, to taste (or other sweetener of your choice)
  • 3 cookies to crumble over top*

*I used Pamela’s Shortbread Pecan cookies (found at Publix)

  1. Combine cashews and milk in blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Add 1 1/2 bananas and blend again until creamy.
  2. Add stevia to taste and blend again.
  3. Pour (and scrape) cashew cream mixture into medium dish (or several mini dishes).
  4. Slice remaining 1/2 banana over top of the pudding and top with cookie crumbles.
  5. Allow to set in the refrigerator for at least an hour.  The longer you leave it, the firmer and more delicious it becomes. 

NOTE:  For a real indulgent treat, line the bottom of your dish with cookies of your choice (healthy, of course) and pour pudding over them.  Finish the recipe as listed above.

Cauliflower Gratin (“Cheesy” Cauliflower)

I am constantly amazed by foods that serve multiple purposes.  Like avocados that can be a delicious dip for your chips, but can also be transformed into a chocolate mousse!  Come on now, THAT’S impressive!  In this case, I’m referring to the cashew nut.  This little thing served as my creamy cheese sauce in this recipe.  This is not your typical gratin full of butter and cheese.  This is actually vegan! 

Another ingredient I used in making the sauce is Nutritional Yeast.  I wanted to give you a little information on this because it’s not commonly used and the name Yeast can be deceiving.  I borrowed a description of this amazing food from Brendan Brazier’s book Thrive in hopes that it would give you better understanding. 

“Nutritional Yeast is a single-cell fungus grown on molasses.  A complete protein and a rich source of B vitamins, nutritional yeast is especially prized for its vitamin B12 content.  Vitamin B12 is scarce in the plant kingdom; nutritional yeast provides a reliable source for those on a plant-based diet.  Unlike baking yeast, nutritional yeast is not active, meaning that it does not feed and grow once inside the body.  For this reason, those who are advised to avoid yeast (usually meaning active yeast) can almost always tolerate nutritional yeast.” – THRIVE, The Vegan Nutrition Guide.

Any health food store carries this product.  It comes in a canister and is a flaky, almost powdery consistency and has a nutty, cheesy flavor.  Now that we’ve cleared that up, here’s the recipe.  I hope you like it!

P.S.  The “cheese” sauce is also great over broccoli.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 TBS nutritional yeast
  • sea salt, pepper, ground red pepper (optional), to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400*. 
  2. Blanch the cauliflower in boiling water for 2-3 minutes just to start the cooking process.  Drain the cauliflower in a colander and prepare the cashew cream in the meantime.
  3. Combine cashews, water, garlic, nutritonal yeast in blender and blend until smooth.  (You want the cream to be thick, but able to be poured.  Additional water might be needed.)
  4. Add sea salt and other seasonings to your liking.
  5. Place cauliflower in a 9×9 baking dish and pour cashew cream sauce over it.  You can use all of it or save some to add when it comes out of the oven.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes. 

Black Bean Burgers

Spring is near and my BBQ grill is calling out to me!  Rather than taking that step just yet, I’ve opted for the vegetarian version  of a burger that I can prepare indoors.  Black beans are a great source of protein, and combined with fresh vegetables, this is a complete meal.  No buns needed.  Any type of flour will work in this recipe.  I’ve used Almond flour and Brown Rice flour and they have both been great.

You can make the patties as thick and as big around as you like them.  Toppings are fun, too.  I added a spoonful of Greek yogurt and fresh cilantro to mine.  My husband had sliced avocado with his.  You might like more traditional burger toppings or simply a slice of cheese melted over yours.  The sky’s the limit.  Pile the condiments high or leave them out altogether.  The burgers really pack a lot of flavor and stand alone just fine.  However you dress them, I encourage you to sit back, feel the warmth of the sun, and enjoy yourself a burger!

 

INGREDIENTS: (makes 6-8 burgers)

  • approximately 2 TBS Coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cups (canned) black beans, drained (1.5 cans)
  • 1.5 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1 TBS ground cumin
  • bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped (as much as you like – I like A LOT!)
  • 3 eggs (or egg whites)
  • 3/4 or 1 whole cup almond flour OR flour of your choice
  1. Saute the onion for 8 to 10 minutes in 1 TBS coconut oil, until soft.  Add garlic and pepper and saute another 3-5 minutes. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine the onion mixture with all other ingredients. 
  3. Form into 2-3 inch patties.
  4. Heat remaining coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Cook patties for 4-6 minutes each side, until golden. 

NOTE* If you have patties left over, you can reheat them later by heating a little oil in the pan and just cook for a couple of minutes on each side until warmed though and crispy on the edges. 

  

  

  

 

Baked Banana Boat

Check this out.  I have a sweet tooth.  This is such a nifty little dessert that doesn’t send you into a sugar coma.  I adapted this recipe from Joy the Baker and it’s so good.  It’s totally healthy for you, too.  So much so that I wouldn’t be opposed to eating it for breakfast, especially before a workout.  You’ve got your carbs in the banana, your protein in the nuts, and just enough dark chocolate to make you feel like you’re having a vacation meal.  Rather than using a typical dark chocolate bar, I used the Macasure bar from the Vega product line.  (We sell these in our office in case you didn’t know.)

I did not post an “after” picture because, well, it’s not pretty.  The skin turns black.  Everything else is nicely melted and toasted just as it should be.  Add your favorite toppings, bake, and dig in!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 macasure bar (or dark chocolate bar), chopped
  • a few raw nuts, chopped
  • shredded coconut (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 375*.
  2. Cut both ends off of the banana and slice the skin down the middle.  Try to avoid slicing the banana itself.
  3. Open the skin and stuff with all other ingredients.
  4. Wrap loosely in foil and bake for 15 minutes.  Allow to sit (still covered) for 5 minutes.

Easy enough? Yum.

3-Bean Chili (Vegetarian)

 

I believe this chili will satisfy both vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.  This was my first time preparing a meatless chili and you can believe me when I say I did not miss the meat (or turkey) one bit.  In fact, I’m eating it now as I write this post and I feel great.  I usually feel very full, uncomfortably full, after eating chili with meat, but not this time.  BIG THANKS to Alissa Jones for being the inspiration behind this meal!  She submitted the recipe idea and gave me permission to run with it.  It was just in time for the cold weather and for my lack of inspiration. 

I decided to prep the vegetables by chopping them very finely in my food processor.  I was hoping that the consistency would emulate that of groud beef (or bison – what I normally use) and it absolutely did!  If you prefer chunkier chili, just give the veggies a rough chop instead.  I plan to feed this to my husband without telling him it’s all veggies.  I’m sure he’ll be fooled!  For those of you who have kids that don’t exactly do somersaults when it comes to eating their vegetables, this is a great way to get them in. 

Don’t let the long list of ingredients cause you to pass this recipe by.  It’s so simple and worth a try!  (I seriously did not mean to rhyme.)  :)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 of an onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 squash
  • 1 zucchini (or 2 small)
  • 1 bell pepper (green, red or yellow)
  • 2 carrots
  • 1-2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can tomato soup OR tomato sauce (I used Amy’s Organic tomato soup)
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained
  • 2-3 tsp chili powder (I used 3)
  • 2-3 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • sea salt to taste
  1. Saute the onion and garlic in a little bit of the vegetable broth for 5 minutes or until tender.
  2. In the meantime, add the squash, zucchini, bell pepper, and carrots to the food processor and process until it reaches the consistency you prefer.
  3. Stir the veggie mixture into the onion/garlic mixture and allow to heat through. 
  4. Add all other ingredients and bring to a boil. 
  5. Allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes. 
  6. Top with your favorite chili topping.  As you see, I used organic raw cheddar cheese

Brown Rice Crispy Treats

I guess I’m on a sweet streak!  This particular snack takes me back to my childhood and I love it.  It couldn’t be easier to make and it’s much healthier than the marshmallow laden version.  These aren’t as sticky as traditional rice crispy treats, but SO tasty!  You can add any kind of dried fruit, nuts or dark chocolate chips and I’m sure they will please any pallet.  Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups brown rice crisps cereal (I have Erewhon brand)
  • 2 heaping (almost 3) TBS almond butter (or nut butter of choice)
  • 1 TBS raw butter
  • 2 TBS xylitol (or to desired sweetness)
  • handful or two of raisins or chocolate chips
  1. Pour crisps in a large bowl and add raisins.  Mix together. NOTE: If you’re using chocolate chips, add them at the end or they will melt when the hot mixture reaches them.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat nut butter and raw butter over low heat until melted.  Add xylitol to reach desired sweetness and stir until well combined.
  3. Pour butter mixture over crisps and stir together.
  4. Press tightly in an 8×8 (or smaller) baking dish to make as thick or thin as you like them.
  5. Chill in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.