Irish Soda Bread

IRISH SODA BREAD

With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, I’m very excited to share my recipe for Irish Soda Bread. It’s gluten-free and dairy-free, but loaded with flavor just like it’s traditional cousin! Simply delicious topped with some Miyoko’s Vegan Butter or Strawberry Jam!

I feel luckier already! I hope you will, too!

Ingredients:

  • 1 C Sorghum Flour

  • 1/2 C Brown Rice Flour

  • 1/2 C Amaranth Flour

  • 1/2 C Arrowroot Starch

  • 2 tsp Baking Powder

  • 1 tsp Baking Soda

  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt

  • 1/4 C Maple Sugar

  • 1 C Nut Milk (I used cashew)

  • 3 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar

  • 1/2 C unsweetened Raisins or Currants

  • 1/2 T melted Vegan Butter or Coconut Oil

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl.

  3. Combine milk and vinegar. Remove about 3 Tablespoons of liquid mixture and set aside for later use.

  4. Add the remaining liquid and the raisins to the mixing bowl and combine with the flour to form a dough. Use your hands or a spatula to make sure all ingredients are well blended and form into a ball.

  5. Turn out ball of dough onto baking sheet and form into a slightly flattened mound. Use a sharp knife to slice a 1/2” X into the top center.

  6. Add melted butter or oil to the reserved “buttermilk” liquid. Using a pastry brush, lightly wash the dough with liquid.

  7. Bake until slightly golden, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely before slicing.

Mushroom Asparagus "Quisotto" (Quinoa Risotto) on Butternut Squash Puree

Mushroom-Asparagus “Quisotto” on Butternut Squash Puree

With apologies in advance to Italians and culinary traditionalists, this twist on risotto featuring quinoa in place of arborio rice is not only a time saver, it’s also loaded with both flavor and nutrition. Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it provides all nine essential amino acids. It’s an especially great form of protein for anyone on a plant-based diet. It’s also rich in cancer-fighting anti-oxidants and has prebiotic properties that promote gut health. It’s got a sort of nutty flavor and makes a great gluten-free substitute in dishes that rely on pasta or rice. I loved it served on a creamy bed of butternut squash puree, but you could easily serve this on a bed of greens or alongside some wild caught Alaskan salmon.

If you give it a try, I’d love to hear what you think!

Quisotto

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (I like a mixture of Shiitake and Cremini, but all Cremini is fine)

  • 1 bunch Asparagus, cleaned and chopped into 1/2” pieces

  • 1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Vegan Butter (I like Miyoko’s brand)

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 T dried Thyme

  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt

  • 1 C uncooked Quinoa

  • 2 C Mushroom (or Vegetable) Stock

Instructions:

  1. Saute mushrooms in olive oil or vegan butter. After about 3 minutes, add the asparagus and saute together for another 3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

  2. In same pan, add a bit of olive oil and cook quinoa for 5 - 8 minutes, stirring frequently so it won’t burn.

  3. Add stock. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.

  4. Reduce to a simmer, and continue stirring until nearly all liquid is absorbed.

  5. Add mushrooms and asparagus back to pan and cover for 5 minutes.

  6. Stir ingredients together, and serve.

Butternut Squash Puree

Ingredients:

  • 3 - 4 C Butternut Squash, chopped into 2” piece

  • 1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • Sea Salt

  • Additional Olive Oil or Vegan Butter (I used Miyoko’s brand)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

  2. Drizzle oil over squash, season with sea salt, and roast in oven for 20 - 30 minutes.

  3. Remove squash from oven and allow to cool slightly.

  4. Place squash in food processor fitted with a blade and process with a bit of butter or oil until very smooth. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper, and serve.

Maple-Chipotle Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Slaw

Maple-Chipotle Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Tacos with Cilantro-Lime Slaw

Did you know that 4.5 billion tacos were consumed last year by Americans alone? The rising popularity of tacos is indisputable (seriously, how many foods have a day of the week devoted to them?). And why not? They’re fun, flavorful, and, with countless variations and garnishes, it’s easy to express your culinary creativity with new combinations every day! This combo really perked up my taste buds, and if you try them I think you’ll agree. The spicy-sweet, almost smoky flavor of the sweet potatoes and sprouts play nicely off the satisfying, slightly fruity crunch of the carrot, mango, and cabbage slaw. What’s different here is these are made with primarily whole, unprocessed foods, and are gluten, dairy, and refined sugar free. What a perfectly delicious way to put more vegetables on the menu!

Maple-Chipotle Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Tacos

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and quartered

  • 2 Medium Sweet Potatoes. peeled and chopped into 1/2” cubes

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt

  • 3 T Pure Maple Syrup

  • 2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar

  • 1 tsp Hot Sauce (I like Siete’s Chipotle Sauce)

  • 1 Avocado, sliced (optional)

  • Gluten-free Tortillas (I like Siete’s Chickpea Tortillas)

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 F. Line baking sheet with parchment.

  2. Toss chopped vegetables with garlic, olive oil, sea salt and about 1 T of the maple-chipotle mixture and place on baking sheet in one layer. Reserve remaining maple-chipotle sauce.

  3. Roast for approximately 20 minutes, checking about halfway through and giving vegetables a good stir. You want them nice and crispy, but not burnt!

  4. Remove from oven,

  5. On each tortilla, place about 1/2 C of vegetables. Drizzle with maple-chipotle sauce and top with cole slaw and avocado slices.

Cilantro-Lime Cole Slaw

Ingredients:

  • 3 C Green or Purple Cabbage (or a mixture of both), finely shredded

  • 1 C Carrot, finely shredded

  • 1/2 Mango, sliced into very thin match stick pieces

  • 1 T cilantro, chopped

  • juice of one Lime

  • 2T Vegan or Avocado Mayonnaise

  • 1 tsp Maple Syrup

  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Combine cabbage, carrots, mango, and cilantro in large mixing bowl.

  2. Blend lime juice, mayonnaise, and maple syrup. Pour over vegetables and mix well to combine. Season as needed.

  3. Enjoy, and instantly wish you’d made more!!

Black Forest Brownie Bites with Coconut Whipped Cream and Brandied Cherries

BLACK FOREST BROWNIE BITES WITH COCONUT WHIPPED CREAM AND BRANDIED CHERRIES

Did you know that the origins of Valentine’s Day have nothing to do with love, and even less to do with chocolate in heart-shaped boxes? It’s true. The holiday actually has a pretty gory history featuring not just one, but possibly three, beheaded Christian martyrs. Talk about killing the mood! About a thousand years later, the English poet Chaucer marked the day as a prime time to observe the mating habits of birds, as this was apparently the season when nests full of newly laid eggs could be found. It became customary for nature lovers to send love notes on that day, a custom that continued for several centuries.

It wasn’t until the early 1900’s that candy makers began marketing their product as “sweets for your sweetheart.” In 1923, the Cadbury Chocolate Company created the first heart-shaped box of chocolates, and a tradition was born. Chocolate was believed to be an aphrodisiac so powerful that Victorian etiquette forbade women to accept a gift of chocolate from any man they weren’t engaged to!

Today, chocolate and Valentine’s Day go together like peanut butter and jelly! Nearly 60 million pounds of chocolate is expected to be purchased the week of Valentine’s Day, by lovers and chocolate lovers alike! And while a good dark chocolate may not exactly be a love potion, it does contain some powerful health benefits backed by science! (And, yes, the benefits are specific to the dark variety, essentially those with at least 70% pure cacao.) Dark chocolate is super high in antioxidants, specifically flavonoids and polyphenols that have been found beneficial in lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow to the heart and the brain. It’s also rich in tryptophan, which can raise levels of serotonin, a natural neurotransmitter that controls many functions of the brain, including mood and behavior. Last, but certainly not least, chocolate contains small amounts of phenylethylamine, a chemical sometimes referred to as “the love drug” since our brains produce more of it it when we fall in love.

I’m not saying that serving this dark chocolate dessert will make someone fall in love with you, but if you share it with someone who’s already smitten, who knows where it might lead?

Hope you enjoy, and much love and chocolate to all of you!

XOXO

Black Forest Brownie Bites

Makes 12 cupcake-sized brownies

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 C organic cashew butter

  • 1/2 C maple sugar or Sucanat

  • 1/3 C maple syrup

  • 1/3 C coconut oil, melted

  • 3/4 C raw cacao powder

  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

  • 2 flax eggs (2 T ground flax plus 6 T water, mixed together and allowed to sit 10 minutes)

  • 1/4 C gluten free oat flour

  • 2 T hazelnut flour

  • 1/2 C dark chocolate chunks

  • 1/4 C cherry puree (nothing fancy here…just roughly pulse or blend half of a 10 oz. bag of frozen dark sweet cherries)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line cupcake tin with liners.

  2. In a medium bowl, blend together cashew butter, maple sugar, maple syrup and melted coconut oil.

  3. Add cacao, vanilla and salt, mixing thoroughly to combine.

  4. Add flax eggs and mix thoroughly.

  5. Add flours, a little at a time, mixing well to fully incorporate.

  6. Fold in chocolate chunks and cherry puree.

  7. Spoon batter into cupcake liners, filling each about halfway.

  8. Bake for 30 - 32 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on cooling rack.

Store in refrigerator for about one week, or wrap individually and freeze.

These are delicious just as they are, but if you want to take them over the top, serve them on a bed of whipped coconut cream and brandied cherries, as pictured above. Both sound extra fancy, but are so simple to make!

Super Simple Coconut Whipped Cream (recipe adapted from back on can!)

Ingredients:

  • 1 can organic coconut cream (I like Let’s Do Organic brand from Thrive Market.)

  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

  • 1 T organic powdered sugar

Instructions:

  1. Place can of coconut cream in refrigerator for about an hour ahead of when you want your whipped cream. (If your kitchen is very warm, you might also want to chill your metal mixing bowl)

  2. Open can and remove cream carefully. While coconut cream will yield less liquid than coconut milk, there will still be some on the bottom of the can (save this for a smoothie!).

  3. Place cream, vanilla, and sugar in mixing bowl and, using the whisk attachment, mix at high speed until peaks begin to form.

Brandied Cherries

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Bing cherries, pitted

  • 1 C maple sugar

  • 1 1/2 C Brandy

Instructions:

  1. Warm brandy and sugar in small saucepan, just to melt sugar.

  2. Pour liquid over cherries, and allow to macerate for at least 3 hours (or overnight).

  3. Feel free to add any additional spices, i.e. vanilla bean, star anise, cinnamon sticks.

Sweet Potato Pecan Muffins

Sweet Potato Pecan Muffins

Not only delicious, these little beauties also pack a powerful punch of nutrition! Sweet potatoes are loaded with Vitamins A and C, plus iron, potassium, and plenty of fiber, so they really provide a body with plenty of fuel! You’ll also get additional fiber and a healthy dose of omega 3 fatty acids from the addition of chia seeds. These make a great mid-day snack when you’re craving a little something to power you through the rest of your busy day.

Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 C mashed sweet potato (Note: one large potato gave me more than enough. Best baked the day before so you don’t need to wait for it to cool!)

  • 1/4 C coconut oil

  • 1/2 C maple syrup

  • 1/4 C pureed pear (or applesauce)

  • 1 farm fresh egg

  • 1 T pure vanilla extract

  • 1 T chia seeds

  • 1 C GF oats

  • 1 C sorghum flour

  • 1 1/2 T baking powder

  • 1 T baking soda

  • 1 T orange zest

  • 2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp allspice

  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

  • 1 C raw pecans, chopped

  • 12 whole pecans (to garnish muffin tops)

  •  

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.

2. Whisk together sweet potato and oil in large bowl.

3. Add maple syrup, pear puree, egg, and vanilla, mixing well to blend ingredients. Add chia seeds to liquid mixture.

4. Blend together oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, zest, and all spices.

5. Fold dry ingredients into liquid and combine to form batter.

6. Add chopped pecans. 

7. Fill cupcake liners with batter (just about to the top). Place one whole pecan in center of each muffin.

8. Bake for 20-25 minutes (until toothpick in center comes out mostly dry). Allow to cool on rack completely before serving/eating.

Note: I find these keep best if wrapped individually and stored in the freezer. Just take one or two out in the morning and bring to room temperature, or pop in the toaster oven for a few minutes.

 

Buffalo Cauliflower "Wings" with Cashew Ranch Dressing

BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER “WINGS” WITH CASHEW RANCH DRESSING

Starting to think about getting your friends together for your annual Super Bowl party? While some people are all about the football and others can’t wait to see this year’s batch of inspired commercials…we all know everyone is also there for the food! You can’t go wrong saving space on the buffet table for these super spicy Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings” and tangy Cashew Ranch Dressing!

(And if plant-based eating is your game and you’re invited out, you can whip these up in less than an hour and easily bring along something everyone will enjoy!)

Ingredients:

“Wings”:

  • 1 head cauliflower, cored and separated into florets

  • 1 C garbanzo bean flour

  • 1 C water

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

  • 1 tsp avocado oil

  • 2/3 C hot sauce (I like Cholula)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 450 F and line baking sheet with parchment paper.

  • Combine flour, water, garlic powder, and salt in large mixing bowl. Whisk to blend well.

  • Dip cauliflower pieces in batter, coating completely, and place on baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, turning pieces over half-way through.

  • Stir together oil and hot sauce in large bowl. Toss cauliflower pieces with sauce, place back on baking sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes, until crispy.

  • Serve with celery and carrot sticks, and Cashew Ranch Dipping Sauce.

Ranch Dressing:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C cashews

  • 2 1/2 T lemon juice

  • 2 T almond milk

  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/4 tsp onion powder

  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley

  • 1/2 tsp dried dill weed

  • 1/2 tsp dried chives

  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Instructions:

  • Soak cashews in 1/2 T lemon juice and enough water to cover by about 2”. Soak for 2 hours, rinse and drain.

  • Blend all ingredients in high-speed blender under smooth and thoroughly blended.

  • Adjust seasonings, as desired.

  • Scrape out with spatula and serve alongside “wings” and veggie sticks.

  • Game on!!

Game-On "Super" Stuffed Mushrooms

Game-On "Super" Stuffed Mushrooms

Your guests will all be winners if your Super Bowl buffet includes these savory ‘shrooms loaded with quinoa, lentils, walnuts, and an array of hearty vegetables dressed with just a touch of pesto sauce. Bonus points scored for being gluten and dairy free so all your friends can dig in and enjoy!

Note: The beauty of this dish is you can totally change up the vegetables based on your preference or what you have on hand. Also, depending on the size of your mushrooms, you may have more stuffing than you need. This is not a problem as it makes a great lunch all on its own!

Makes 18-24, depending on size

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 C cooked quinoa

  • 1 C cooked lentils

  • 3/4 C walnuts, finely chopped

  • 1 1/2 lbs. whole mushrooms (button, cremini or baby Portobellos)

  • 1 small shallot, minced

  • 1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/4 C sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped

  • 1/2 bunch asparagus, chopped into half-inch pieces

  • 1 T parsley, chopped

  • 2 C Swiss chard, finely chopped (chop ribs into small dice)

  • 3 T vegan pesto (I like Gotham brand)

  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 F and line baking sheet with parchment paper.

  • Combine quinoa, lentils, and walnuts in large mixing bowl and set aside.

  • Remove stems from mushrooms, dice stems, and set aside for filling.

  • Brush mushrooms with olive oil, place stem side down on baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes.

  • While mushrooms bake, warm 1 T olive oil in medium pan and saute the garlic, shallots, red pepper, tomato, asparagus, mushroom stems, and parsley for about 5 minutes. Add to quinoa-lentil mixture.

  • Add a bit of water to the pan, and then add the chard and cook down for about 1 minute. Add to bowl of stuffing mixture together with pesto and combine to blend all ingredients.

  • Remove mushrooms from oven and drain off excess liquid. Spoon about 1 heaping T of stuffing mixture into each mushroom. Return to oven for additional 10-12 minutes.

  • Optional: top with a drizzle of pesto or some chopped parsley.

  • Serve warm.

Holiday Survival Strategies

Holiday Survival Strategies

It’s that time of the year again. Time to gather with family and friends to celebrate and make merry…all while adding a million things to your “to do” list and navigating a gauntlet of food and drink that can leave you feeling less than joyful by New Year’s Day! Ugh! But it doesn’t need to be that way. With a little mindful planning, you can enjoy every minute of the holidays without depleting your energy and jeopardizing health gains you’ve worked so hard for all year. Here are my best tips for looking and feeling your best straight through New Year’s Day:

  1. Be prepared! Life gets busy at this time of year. Make sure your pantry and refrigerator are filled with healthy foods. A little time spent prepping some easy-to-grab items at the beginning of the week will set you up to make better choices all week long.

  2. Try to keep to a schedule. Don’t throw all your good habits out the door until January! Steal some time just for you…even if it’s just 20 minutes to “check in” with yourself.

  3. Fit in fitness! Sure, you may not have time to make it to the gym or your favorite yoga class, but you can still incorporate physical activity into your day through non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or movement as part of daily living. Try parking further away at the grocery store or shopping center. Put on some tunes and dance around your kitchen while baking holiday treats. Extra bonus points for working exercise into the “down times” of your day, i.e. how many squats can you do while waiting for your coffee to brew in the morning?

  4. And speaking of coffee…try not to overdo it! You may think the caffeine helps you power through your busy day, but it just stresses your adrenal glands in the long run. Remember that caffeine and alcohol are also dehydrating, so if you do indulge be sure to increase your water intake to stay hydrated!

  5. Make sure you get enough sleep. Research has shown that getting less than 6 1/2 hours causes an overproduction of ghrelin, a hormone that increases your appetite.Sleep deprivation also makes you irritable, and that’s no fun for you OR the people you love!

  6. Be aware of the negative impact gluten and dairy can have even if you are not specifically diagnosed with an allergy or disorder. Both foods are highly inflammatory and may keep you from feeling your best.

  7. Stay away from processed, convenience foods…especially if you’re likely to be indulging in a few fresh baked Christmas cookies or other holiday treats.

  8. Make sure your diet includes lots of colorful fruits and vegetables, as well as dark leafy greens. These complex carbs are rich in phytonutrients and great for providing sustained energy. A salad of mixed greens, endive, sliced apple, pomegranate seeds, and chopped pistachios would be a seasonally beautiful and delicious addition to your table!

  9. Have healthier snack options available, especially to grab as you run out the door to do some last-minute shopping! Carry a bag of nuts and fruit, or a protein bar (look for one with only a few ingredients, none being sugar. I like Lara bars.). Or, you can whip up a batch of my Gingerbread Cacao Power Balls (recipe below).

  10. Be kind to yourself and others! Keep it all in perspective. You don’t need to eat ALL the sugar, party ALL night every night, or shop ‘til you literally drop. At the same time, it’s okay to have a latke or two, a slice of your favorite pie, or to enjoy being part of the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping. Just maybe aim for a bit of balance so your spirits remain bright through December and well into the New Year! Merry Happy to one and all!

GINGERBREAD CACAO POWER BALLS

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 C cashew butter

  • 1/3 C vanilla protein powder (I like Sun Warrior Plant-Based Complete Protein)

  • 1/3 C ground flax seed

  • 3 T molasses

  • 1 tsp ground ginger

  • 1 tsp raw cacao

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

  • 1/2 C finely chopped pecans

  • Additional cacao for coating balls, optional

Instruction:

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix until it forms a dough. Roll pieces of the dough into 1” balls and roll in cacao (if using). Store in refrigerator.

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Bisque

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Bisque

This flavorful and easy-to-prepare soup is perfect for a cold winter night. It’s great on its own, alongside a salad or sandwich, or embellished with additional, chunkier ingredients (roasted vegetables or chickpeas are some of my favorites!) for a heartier meal in a bowl!

Ingredients:

  • 2 red peppers, seeded and quartered

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes

  • 6- 8 garlic cloves (break apart but do not peel individual cloves)

  • olive oil

  • sea salt

  • 1 T olive oil

  • 1 medium white onion, chopped

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • 1 tsp dried thyme

  • 6 C vegetable stock or broth (you can use chicken stock, if you prefer)

  • 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, not drained (I use Muir Glen Fire-Roasted)

  

Instruction::

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

  • In a mixing bowl, coat peppers, cherry tomatoes, and garlic with olive oil. (Use your hands to be sure you really cover all surfaces of the vegetables.)

  • Place vegetables on a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt.

  • Roast vegetables for about 15-20 minutes (when the tomatoes have begun “bursting” a bit, and peppers are a bit charred they are done). Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn!

  • Remove pan from oven and set aside.

  • When veggies are cool enough to handle, “pop” the garlic cloves out of their skin.

  • Meanwhile, heat 1 T olive oil in Dutch oven or soup pot.

  • Add and saute the onion until tender (about 5 minutes).

  • Mix in oregano and thyme, and cook for another minute. Add stock, canned tomatoes, and all the roasted ingredients.

  • Simmer for about 10 minutes. Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste.

  • At this point, use either an immersion blender or a standard blender to puree the soup.

(NOTE: if using a standard blender that does not have a vented lid, take care to allow soup to cool a bit before blending. If using this method, you will also probably need to do it in more than one batch. Honestly, the time and mess avoided by using an immersion blender makes it well worth the investment!) Serve, either alone or with croutons, pepitas, crispy chickpeas, etc.

Moroccan Chickpea and Vegetable Stew

Moroccan Chickpea and Vegetable Stew

This spicy and versatile vegetable dish gets its Moroccan flair from a medley of aromatic spices that combine to create Ras El Hanout, a popular Middle Eastern blend. The name translates loosely to “top of the shop,” and can traditionally include anywhere from 10 to 100 spices representing the favorites of each individual spice merchant in the marketplace. As a result, no two are the same, although you can generally expect all to include things like ginger, cardamom, coriander, mace, turmeric, anise, cayenne, nutmeg, and cinnamon. You can make your own blend, but it’s also become rather easy to find in specialty spice shops. Ras El Hanout adds great flavor to tagines, soups, and stews, like this one here.

Hope you enjoy this hearty stew, either on its own or served over some quinoa or brown rice. You can also feel free to add/substitute other vegetables for those suggested here. Other options include broccoli, sweet potato, or zucchini. This is also a great “make ahead” meal that can be made in bulk and portioned into smaller size containers for freezing.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 large white onion, chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 T coconut or olive oil

  • 1 T Ras el Hanout

  • 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika

  • 1 tsp ground cumin

  • 1 tsp ground coriander

  • 1 tsp turmeric

  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger

  • 1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper

  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt

  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

  • 2 - 4 carrots, chopped (enough for about 2 Cups)

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets

  • 1 15-oz can organic diced tomatoes (including juice)

  • 2 1/2 C vegetable stock

  • 2 15-oz cans organic chickpeas, rinsed well and drained

  • Optional Garnish: chopped fresh cilantro and/or toasted pumpkin seeds

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in large pot. Add onion and garlic, and saute for about 5 minutes.

  2. Add all spices and cook for about 1 minute, just to release their fragrance.

  3. Add carrots and cauliflower. Stir to combine with spices and cook at medium heat for 5 minutes. (Note: you can add a bit of stock to the pan to avoid sticking, if you wish.)

  4. Add tomatoes and stock. Bring to a boil, and reduce to simmer.

  5. Add chickpeas, and allow mixture to simmer for 30 - 40 minutes (until carrots and cauliflower are tender).

  6. Serve with chopped cilantro or toasted pumpkin seeds, and enjoy!

Chipotle Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers

These sweet and spicy veggie burgers are vegan, gluten free, and best of all delicious! For best results, mix ingredients in advance and chill in the refrigerator for about an hour (overnight is fine too). They can be served with GF hamburger buns, but are also great on their own with toppings like avocado, red onion, or tomato slices, guacamole, or pico de gallo.

Yield: 8

INGREDIENTS:

2 large Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cubed (should yield 2 1/2 - 3 C cubed)

1 T Chipotle Powder

1 tsp Sea Salt

1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 C cooked Brown Rice

2 C cooked or 1 15 oz. can Black Beans (rinsed well and drained)

1/2 medium Red Onion, diced

1/2 C lightly packed Cilantro or Parsley Leaves, chopped

2 tsp Cumin Powder

1 tsp Chili Powder

1 tsp Chipotle Powder

1 tsp Garlic Powder

1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper (optional, to taste. Omit for less heat.)

1 tsp Sea Salt

1/2 C Gluten Free Old Fashioned Oats

1 T Hot Sauce (optional - I use Rancho Gordo’s Rio Fuego Very Hot Sauce)

Plus Extra Virgin Olive Oil, to be brushed on before baking

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat sweet potatoes with mixture of olive oil, chipotle, and sea salt. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and roast until fork tender and golden (20-30 minutes). Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Note: alternately, you can bake sweet potatoes whole for about an hour and scoop out the flesh. I like roasting them with my choice of spices for a greater depth of flavor.

 2.  In a large mixing bow, combine cooled sweet potatoes with rice, black beans, onion, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, chipotle, garlic, cayenne (if using) and salt.

 3. Use a potato masher or large spoon to blend ingredients really well. You want the beans to be partly smashed, partly whole.

 4. Add oats and mix well until ingredients hold together when shaped into a ball.

  5.  Cover and refrigerate for about an hour to allow mixture to bind together.

  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

   7. Using your hands, form about 3/4 C of mixture into a patty about 4" wide. Gently flatten and smooth our any rough edges. Repeat process for each patty. You should end up with 8.

   8. On a parchment lined baking sheet, brush 8 circles of olive oil. Place patties on olive oil circles and brush tops lightly with additional oil.

    9. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, then carefully flip each patty and repeat for  another 15 minutes. Tops should be somewhat golden and crisp. Since oven temps can vary, adjust time accordingly.

NOTE: These freeze very well after cooking. To do so, wrap patties individually and place in gallon-size freezer bag in one layer (so they can lay flat in freezer). Reheat while still frozen, about 20 minutes at 350F.

 

 

 

 

Golden Beet Turmeric Hummus

We all love to snack, but some snacks serve us better than others! Highly processed, super sweet or highly salted foods tend to leave me feeling bloated, in need of a nap, or both. Who has time for that on a beautiful summer day? Instead, I try to keep a supply of energy boosting, nutritious treats on hand that keep me fueled and ready to enjoy the sunshine.  This Golden Beet Turmeric Hummus is not only delicious and satisfying, but also contains a healthy dose of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. So easy to make, and perfect served up with some farm-fresh vegetable crudite for a crunchy contrast.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb peeled Golden Beets
  • 6 unpeeled cloves Garlic 
  • 2 Cups cooked or 1 15 oz can Chick Peas (reserve liquid)
  • 2 - 4 T cooking liquid
  • 2 T Tahini 
  • 4 T fresh squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
  • Optional Toppings for serving: Olive Oil, Hungarian Paprika, Za'atar, Parley, Sesame Seeds

Instructions:

  1. Cut beets in 1" pieces, toss with unpeeled garlic cloves, some avocado or olive oil, and a bit of sea salt.  Roast at 400 degrees F on a parchment lined baking sheet. Once cooled, simply squeeze the garlic out of its peel. NOTE: To save time, this step can be done up to 24 hours in advance.
  2. Place beets, garlic, and chick peas in food processor and blend to break down and combine. Add a bit of the cooking liquid and blend to a smoother consistency.
  3. Add tahini, 3 T lemon juice, and dry spices. Blend to combine.
  4. Taste, and add remaining liquid and lemon juice as needed to achieve desired texture and flavor.
  5. When serving, add optional toppings as you wish.
  6. Enjoy with raw vegetables, crackers or flat bread, or as part of a collard green wrap!

 

Not Your Mama's Rice Crispie Treats

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Is there any one of us who hasn't enjoyed a sugary sweet, ooey gooey marshmallow-filled Rice Crispie Treat at one time or another? The ones I remember most fondly are the ones my mom would whip up as a special snack, often packed for picnics or an outing to the beach. Sometimes "plain." Sometimes drizzled with chocolate. (They were a horribly impractical choice for a day out in the hot sun, but that's an entirely different story!) I'm not gonna lie and pretend they weren't delicious, but what if I told you you could riff on the original in a way that would not only be delicious but would also contain better-for-you ingredients? 

That's exactly what I have for you today! My version is gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, and free of high fructose corn syrup or preservatives. Instead, they are loaded with decadent flavor in the form of bittersweet chocolate, both melted into the almond butter mixture that becomes the "glue" to hold the treat together and in a totally over-the-top layer of ganache! I topped mine with toasted almonds, flakes of sea salt, and raw cacao nibs but you could also opt for goji berries, shredded coconut, or no garnish at all. 

Oooh, Mama! These are so good!

Makes 16 2" squares 

Ingredients: 

  • 3/4 C maple syrup
  • 3/4 C almond butter (cashew butter is also good!)
  • 1/2 C bittersweet chocolate (70% or more cocoa bean content), chopped
  • 2 T organic extra virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 4 C crisp brown rice cereal

Ganache Topping:

  • 3 T organic extra virgin coconut oil
  • 3/4 C bittersweet chocolate (70% or more)

Optional Toppings:

  • 1/4 C toasted almonds
  • 1/4 C raw cacao nibs
  • 1/4 C goji berries
  • 1/4 C shredded coconut flakes
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt flakes

Instructions:

1. Line an 8"x8" square pan with two strips of parchment paper, cut long enough to extend over the top of all four sides of pan, providing "handles."

2. In a medium saucepan,  bring maple syrup to a rolling boil. After about one minute, remove from heat and add almond butter, chocolate, coconut oil, almond and vanilla extracts, and salt. Stir until chocolate is melted and all ingredients are well blended and smooth.

3. Fold in the rice cereal, mix well to combine, and scrape mixture into prepared pan. Spread firmly and evenly, making sure to fill the corners. (TIP: I find it works best if I place a square of parchment over the mixture and use the bottom of a glass to tamp down the mixture into a smooth layer.)

4. Combine coconut oil and chopped chocolate into clean saucepan and melt over low heat, stirring constantly. Pour melted chocolate over the rice mixture and sprinkle whatever garnish you choose evenly over the top.

5. Refrigerate for about one hour. Lift the block of chocolate out of the pan by carefully grasping the parchment and cut into 16 2" squares. 

 

 

 

Mixed Berry-licious Morning Muffins

MIXED BERRY-LICIOUS MORNING MUFFINS

Before making the switch to gluten free, plant-based eating, my "house muffin" was the Blue Sky Bran Muffin discovered on the Smitten Kitchen website. It was so versatile and delicious, and everyone loved them. This year, with a bit more gluten free baking experience behind me, I set out to create a version that would be just as tasty without the gluten, dairy, or refined sugar. And I think I cracked the code! These guys are delicious and (I think!) can easily hold their own against the original! I hope you'll give them a try and let me know what you think.

One of the best things about this muffin recipe is that it is quite adaptable. Feel free to use not only your favorite blend of berries, but also other seasonal fruits. I love a mixture of peach and blueberry in the summer months, and I imagine apple or pear would be fabulous come the fall. So many sweet opportunities to play in the kitchen!

 

Makes 12 Muffins

Ingredients:

Crumble:

  • 2 T Almond Flour

  • 2 T Coconut Sugar or Sucanat

  • 1/2 tsp Sea Salt

  • 1 tsp Cinnamon

  • 2 tsp Coconut Oil, melted

  • 1 1/2 T Slivered Almonds

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 C Almond Flour

  • 1 C White Rice Flour

  • 1/4 C Arrowroot Starch

  • 1 T Ground Psyllium Husk

  • 1 C Coconut Sugar or Sucanat

  • 1 tsp Baking Soda

  • 1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

  • 1 tsp Sea Salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 C Unsweetened Applesauce

  • 3 T Coconut Oil, melted

  • 1/2 C Almond Milk

  • 1 T Lemon Juice

  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

To Add Separately:

1 1/2 C Mixed Berries - Your Choice! (I like Blueberries, Raspberries, and Strawberries, especially at the peak of Summer!)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line muffin tin with liners.

  2. Mix together crumble ingredients and set aside.

  3. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together wet ingredients in a smaller bowl.

  4. Add wet ingredients to dry, and mix together until just combined.

  5. Fill muffin cups about halfway with batter, then add about 3 tsp. berries to each.

  6. Spoon remaining better on top of fruit, and sprinkle each muffin with a bit of the crumble mixture.

  7. Bake muffins for 25-28 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and mostly dry.

  8. Allow muffins to cool completely on a wire rack before removing from the tin.

Note: As with most gluten free baked goods, I find these do best if stored in the refrigerator. They'll last there about 4 days. For longer storage, they can be frozen for weeks and simply popped in the toaster oven to be refreshed.

Enjoy!

 

 

Maximize Your Health Style for Your Best Vacation Ever!

Next weekend is Memorial Day, can you believe it? Here in the Northeast, the weather feels a month or so behind! But it's true. Summer vacations are on the horizon, and lots of us will soon take to the friendly skies and open highways. Whatever your destination, none of us want precious holiday memories to be ruined by feeling less than our best.

While it’s great to be prepared with remedies to provide relief should you get ill on a trip, there are also precautions you can take both before and during your travels to reduce your chances of catching a bug. Starting two weeks leading up to departure, consider these steps to boost your immunity and increase the odds of feeling your best:

Choose foods high in Vitamins B (i.e. eggs, fish, chicken, mushrooms, lentils, nuts) and C (citrus fruits, broccoli, dark leafy greens, berries, bell peppers). Pair them with ingredients found to be particularly essential for optimal immune function, such as garlic, onions, ginger, thyme, parsley, chili powder, and cayenne pepper.

Limit sugar and highly processed foods, as these can cause inflammation, leaving you susceptible to viral, bacterial and parasitic invaders. Once at your destination, keep your blood sugar balanced by eating some protein or healthy fat along with carbs and sugar. This is especially important at breakfast, as it may determine your energy level for the rest of the day. Having pancakes and maple syrup? Try sprinkling a handful of walnuts or almonds on top. Enjoying some tropical fruit? Add some avocado or almond butter on toast.

Consider supplementing your diet with a broad spectrum probiotic. This will greatly support your digestive system in fighting off pathogens and bacteria. Ideally, you should take these before and during your trip. For a complete rundown on essential travel supplements, check out this excellent summary by Josh Gitalis, Certified Practitioner of Functional Medicine.

Hydrate and re-hydrate! Don’t wait to board the plane. Start now consuming 8-10 8 oz. glasses of pure water. It’s also a good time to reduce or remove alcohol and caffeine from your diet, especially if your trip involves many hours on an airplane. If you do have that cocktail, remember to offset its dehydrating effects with extra water.

Prepare both body and soul for take off! Don’t let that “prepping for holiday to-do list” take precedence over things you know keep you totally fit. Make sure you get enough sleep. Do some stretching or take a walk. Take time to meditate, read a good book, or enjoy your favorite music.

Adopting these simple tips can help ensure that memories of your trip will be of how it exceeded your expectations, not of time wasted recovering from unplanned for health concerns.

Bon voyage!

Crunchy Za'atar Falafel

Did you know that lots of pre-made falafel contains gluten, dairy, and other not-so-good-for-you ingredients? It's true. Making your own is so easy and delicious, plus you can personalize the spice blend to su your taste! For an extra crunch, I like including Za'atar, a Middle Easter blend of sumac, thyme, cumin and sesame seeds. So good, and great to add to a salad or alongside some hummus and crudites!

 

Serves: 5 (Makes about 15 2” balls; estimate 3 per serving)

Ingredients:
2 C dried chickpeas
1 small white onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 C fresh parsley (including stems)
1 1/2 T Za’atar spice blend
1/2 T sesame seeds
1 T ground cumin
1 T ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 T oat flour (certified gluten free)
Avocado Oil (brushed on before baking)

 

Instructions:

  1. Place dried chickpeas in large bowl, and cover with water 2-3 inches above chickpeas (they will expand and soak up the liquid). Let them sit for about 24 hours. Note: you can do this and then store the prepared chickpeas in the refrigerator for use within a day or two.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Place chickpeas, onion, garlic, parsley, and all spices into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to breakdown and blend the ingredients until mixture is well combined and uniform in a gritty texture (not smooth).
  4. Transfer to a mixing bowl, and add in the oat flour. Mix well to combine. (Now is a good time to taste a bit of the mixture and adjust seasoning, if needed.)
  5. Brush a thin coating of avocado oil onto the parchment of cookie sheet.
  6. Using your hands, form mixture into 2” balls (about the size of golf balls) and place onto the parchment. When cookie sheet is filled, brush the tops of each falafel with a bit more oil.
  7. Bake for about 8 minutes, then carefully flip each falafel and bake another 5-8 minutes until golden brown. 
  8. Serve warm in salads, wraps, or with some hummus, olives, and crudite.  They can also be allowed to cool and then stored in freezer for future enjoyment!

Curried Cauliflower Potato Leek Soup

Curried Cauliflower Potato Leek Soup

This soup is a bit of a "merger" between two soups I make fairly often...a cauliflower bisque and a potato leek. (Must have been one of those days when you look in the refrigerator and see nothing but odds and ends that need to be used. We've all been there! ) The good news is they can usually be put to good use in a hearty soup. Just add your favorite herbs and spices and you may just come up with a new favorite!

I love garnishing this soup with some crumbled kale chips and a bit of cashew parmesan "cheese." Soooo good on a cold winter's night! (Hopefully, one of the last...but that's a story for another day!)

 

Curried Cauliflower Potato Leek Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 2 T avocado oil, divided
  • 1 T curry powder
  • 1 T cumin seed
  • sea salt
  • 2 or 3 leeks, well washed and chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 C vegetable stock
  • 2 C water
  • 4 or 5 small yukon gold potatoes, chopped

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  3. Coat cauliflower with oil and seasonings, place on pan and roast in oven until tender and slightly golden (approx, 20 min)
  4. Heat second T oil in soup pot. Add leeks and garlic, and cook to tender (about 5 minutes).
  5. Add stock and potatoes and bring to boil.
  6. Reduce heat to simmer.
  7. Add roasted cauliflower to pot. 
  8. Blend all ingredients to a smooth puree, using either an immersion blender or stand blender. If your blender is not vented, you MUST allow soup to cool down before blending. Blend in batches and return to pot for warming.
  9. Serve immediately with some freshly cracked black pepper and your choice of crunchy topping (optional).

Ginger-Pear “Pump up the Power” Smoothie 

Ginger-Pear “Pump up the Power” Smoothie

What could be better than starting the day loaded with anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory flavonoids good for keeping chronic inflammation-loving illness at bay? How about adding lots of protein and energy-enhancing goodness, plus plenty of Vitamins A, C, and K thanks to a heaping portion of spinach and parsley? All in the form of a delicious ginger-pear, sort of chai-spiced gorgeous green smoothie. Well…gooooood morning!  This smoothie delivers big! 

And be sure not to peel that pear!  According to the World’s Healthiest Foods, that’s where you’ll find 3-4 times the phenolic phytonutrients of the flesh alone!

(Serves 1-2)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pear, cored and chopped. Leave skin on for maximum nutrition!
  • 1 1/2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 C spinach
  • handful of fresh parsley
  • 1 C  fresh-made almond milk
  • 1  T goji berries
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 T hemp hearts
  • 1 tsp maca
  • 1 scoop Vanilla Protein Powder
  • 1 C ice cubes
  • 1 tsp raw honey or maple syrup

Directions:

Place all ingredients in blender, and blend until smooth.

Ginger Cashew Truffles

Ginger Cashew Truffles

These Ginger Cashew Truffles are great for a delicious afternoon snack that balances the sugar with some healthy fat and protein, as well as a boost from mood-enhancing superfood maca. I like to keep a batch of these in the freezer for a treat that keeps me energized!

 Ingredients:

12 pitted Medjool dates
2 - 3 T cashew butter
1 C raw cashews
1 C gluten free old-fashioned oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
pinch sea salt
1/2 C dried cherries
1/2 C candied ginger, chopped
2 tsp maca (optional)

 

Instruction:

Place dates, cashew butter, and cashews in food processor and pulse to break down and combine into a sticky, paste-like substance. Add additional ingredients and pulse to combine. Place mixture in large bowl (you can work from the food processor bowl if you prefer…just remove the blade for safety!). Form into 1" balls and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Place sheet in refrigerator or freezer for about 10 minutes, just to set. Balls can be stored in fridge or freezer (for longer storage) in a gallon ziploc container. 

Makes 28 - 30 1” truffles

Putting Your Best Face Forward: Strategies for Winter Skincare

Putting Your Best Face Forward: Strategies for Winter Skincare

When the weather outside turns frightful, it’s important to have a well-stocked arsenal of protective measures to keep our skin looking and feeling its best! It’s especially important for those with chronic skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, rosacea and Raynaud’s disease. Each of these conditions can be exacerbated by the combination of low temps, blustery winds and lack of humidity that comes with winter weather.

Too often, we wait for symptoms to appear before taking action, but when it comes to protecting our skin, prevention truly is the best medicine. Some simple changes to the foods we eat and how we care for ourselves can go a long way towards keeping us comfortable in our own skin, whatever the season.

The first thing you’ll want to do is moisturize to form a protective barrier between your skin and the elements, especially skin that is exposed or particularly affected by excessive dryness. Coconut oil is a great option for this, and is best absorbed if applied right after showering on skin that is still damp. If you can add extra moisture to your environment  by using a humidifier to combat the dry heat, go for it!

Stress, too, can act as a trigger that worsens chronic skin conditions. Try to alleviate and manage stress through meditation, gentle exercise, or listening to your favorite music. You may just end up with healthier skin AND a better mood!

What many skin disorders have in common is research showing chronic inflammation as a root cause. As such, it makes sense to adopt an anti-inflammatory health-style as described below.

Foods to Avoid

Alcohol and caffeine, both of which are dehydrating, should be consumed sparingly, if at all. If you do enjoy the occasional glass of wine or cup of coffee, remember to rehydrate by drinking extra water.

  • Gluten (includes wheat, barley, rye, triticale, semolina, spelt, and couscous)
  • Casein (includes milk, butter, yogurts, and cheeses)

Foods to Embrace

Fruits/vegetables rich in Vitamin A (carrots, kale, spinach, winter squash)

Fruits/vegetables rich in Vitamin C (broccoli, citrus, strawberries, Brussels sprouts)

Foods high in Vitamin D (salmon, sardines, shiitake mushrooms)

With our skin being the largest organ of our bodies, what could be more important than caring for it as best we can? Making these lifestyle changes may not be quite the same as jetting off to a tropical island at the first dip in temperature, but they may just be the next best thing!