Deceptively Delicious Chocolate Avocado Pudding!

*That's it! Those ingredients pictured are the only ones in the pudding :) 

Ingredients:

·       3 ripe avocados

·       1 banana

·       1 cup coconut milk

·       1/2 cup pure maple syrup

·       1/3 cup cocoa powder/raw cacao nibs

·       8 dates

·       1 tsp vanilla

·       pinch of cinnamon

Directions:

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor and dip strawberries, eat as pudding, add whipped coconut cream and ENJOY! :) 

SO simple and so good, you can't help but smile!

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Banana Coconut Cookies

Gluten & dairy free, vegan, grain free & super delicious.

These light and tasty cookies remind me of a macaroon. This recipe is from The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen, one of my favorite food blogs.

 These cookies are crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. They are only slightly sweet and high in protein, making them a nutritious after school snack served alongside carrot and celery sticks. You can add mini chocolate chips to some of them if desired though this will add a little bit of cane sugar (this cookie is a great choice for diabetics if you leave out the chocolate chips). You could replace the 2 tablespoons of maple syrup with more banana if you don't want any sweetener.

Wet Ingredients:
1/3 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 medium)
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon organic almond flavoring

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups blanched almond flour
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

In a medium-sized mixing bowl whisk together the wet ingredients. Add the dry ingredients and mix together using a fork. Form dough into ball and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Form dough into small balls (about 15) and place onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie ball with the palm of your hand. Bake for about 15 minutes. Cookies will be soft straight out of the oven but will firm up once completely cool. You can place them onto a wire rack to cool and then place the rack into your freezer for quick cooling. 

Source: www.NourishingMeals.com

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Chocolate Cherry Almond Truffles

A Valentine's Day delight! These delicious truffles don't sacrifice taste for nutrition! Gluten free, dairy free, and vegan. And with almond butter and chickpeas (the secret ingredient), you're still getting plenty of protein and fiber. 

 

This recipe makes about 30 truffles (about the size of a melon baller).

Ingredients:

·       1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

·       1 tsp vanilla extract

·       1 tsp almond extract (for the cherry flavoring)

·       1/8 tsp baking soda 

·       4 tbsp of almond butter (or any other "nut" butter you'd like to substitute)

·       2/3 cup coconut palm sugar (low in glycemic index aka won't spike your blood sugars!)

·       1 tablespoon chia seeds 

·       1 cup chocolate chips (I use "Enjoy Life" brand for gluten free and dairy free reasons)

·       2 teaspoons coconut oil

Directions:

1. Add all ingredients (except chocolate chips and coconut oil - which will be used for outer coating) to food processor and blend until smooth.  Then form into balls and chill in the fridge.

2. Melt coconut oil and chocolate in double boiler (or be really careful not to let the pot get too hot and stir consistently otherwise the chocolate will burn). Take the balls from fridge and cover in chocolate.  Return to the fridge to allow outer coat to harden.  

3. ENJOY! .. just try not to eat them all yourself... they're pretty addicting :)

 

This recipe has been adapted from "Cookie Dough Truffle" recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie's blog.

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Spicy Vegetarian Chili

Ingredients:

·       1 tablespoon vegetable oil

·       1 large onion, chopped

·       4 cloves garlic, minced

·       2 cups red bell pepper, diced (about 2 peppers)

·       2 cans (14.5-oz) diced and fire roasted tomatoes with organic green chiles

·       1/4 cup chili powder

·       1 cup mushrooms

·       1 tablespoon ground cumin

·       1/4 tsp cinnamon

·       1 1/2 teaspoon salt

·       1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

·       2 cups vegetable (chicken or beef) broth, or water

·       1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained

·       1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained

·       1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained

·       Top with cilantro

 

Preparation:

1.     In a large pot, over med-high heat, add in the oil, onion, garlic, mushrooms and peppers and sauté for about 5 minutes.  

2.     Add all remaining ingredients, except the beans, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add the beans and cook for 15 minutes more. Water can be added during the cooking to adjust for thinner or thicker chili.

3.     Serve on a bed of greens and enjoy! :) 

 For an extra tasty treat, add some Diaya (vegan) cheese to the top of your bowl!

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Crunchy Kale Chips

*Pictured above - kale chips before baking.

Ingredients:
1 bunch of curly kale (make sure it's not dino or lacinato kale - it won't crisp the same!)
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tsp salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Wash kale thoroughly and dry thoroughly.
2. Tear kale away from stem. Each kale piece should be chip sized.
3. Place kale, salt, olive oil and lemon into a bowl and mix together with your hands, gently massaging the kale with the oil, lemon and salt
4. Lay kale pieces flat out on a cookie sheet or pizza pan. Place in oven and set timer for 15 minutes and check.
5. Remove from oven and gently unstuck kale from pan if it has stuck and if needed, place in oven for another 5 minutes until kale is dry and crispy
6. Allow to cool. Can store in fridge for up to a week.

Tips:

·       Trader Joe's now carries pre-cut and washed kale pieces which speed up this process.

·       When placing kale on baking sheets, massage oil into kale so it cooks evenly.

·       Can also substitute vinegar for lemon for a salt and vinegar chip.

·       Can also substitute garlic salt, Braggs amino acids, and various flavorings for an extra flavorful treat - ENJOY!

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Chia Seed Pudding

Chia seeds are a wonderfully nutrient dense food - with 0 net carbohydrates (1 tbsp provides 6 grams of fiber, however!), omega 3 fatty acids, and a complete protein! 

They also contain an abundance of minerals to keep your bones strong. 6 times more calcium than milk, 64% more potassium than a banana, 32% of your daily magnesium (more than broccoli), 6 times more iron than spinach, and more niacin than corn, rice & soy!

And just for an added benefit, chia seeds have powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants are incredibly important in cancer prevent! Chia seeds have double the amount antioxidants found in blueberries.

While there are an infinite amount of possibilities of ways to enjoy chia seeds, this is one of my favorite!

Ingredients:

·       4 TBSP chia seeds

·       3/4 cup coconut milk

·       1 tsp vanilla extract

·       1/2 banana, chopped

·       1/4 cup cocao nibs

·       1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

Soak coconut seeds in coconut milk for 15-30 minutes - making sure to stir a few times. The chia seeds will begin to form a sort of "gel" that makes a perfect pudding!

Add vanilla extract and banana and top with cocao nibs and cinnamon. 

Enjoy for breakfast, lunch a great snack any time of the day!

Other variations: Include apples, berries, dried fruits, almonds, walnuts, nutmeg, etc.

Banana Bread

I was pleasantly surprised by how great this texture (and taste) turned out!

Sometimes I struggle with getting gluten free breads spongy and moist without overbaking, but this came out perfect. 

Ingredients:

1 cup mashed banana

1/2 cup coconut palm sugar

4 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs - or egg replace (I use Orgran "no egg" - 2 tsp mix + 4 tbsp water)

1& 3/4 cup gluten free flour (I used Pamela's Baking Mix)

2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup walnuts (optional to top)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Blend together oil, mashed banana, coconut palm, vanilla and egg replace.

Mix in flour and cinnamon.

Pour into greased (can use the coconut oil) 8" x 4" loaf pan. Sprinkle with walnuts and top with cinnamon. 

Bake for 1 hour, or when inserted toothpick comes out clean. 

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Strawberry Mint Lemonade

Ingredients:
• 10 ice cubes
• 10 strawberries
• 10 mint leaves
• 3 Tablespoons raw honey (note: do not feed honey to children under 1 year old)
• 2 lemons (juiced)
• flax oil (optional - but great if looking to add calories for kids)

Directions:
1. Add chopped strawberries, 8 mint leaves, lemon juice, and honey to blender with as little water as possible to blend. Blend until fully liquified.

2. Add flax oil (optional) and ice cubes. Blend until ice is completely crushed. (may need to stop and stir a couple of times, it is worth it for the texture).

3. Pour into glass and garnish with last mint leaves.

Strawberries are great for teeth and gums and full of antioxidants. Lemon juice helps to cleanse and strengthen the internal organs, regulate digestion, and promote sweating. Flax oil is great for all inflammation, including sunburn. Mint will relax you, and help to make you feel cooled down. Raw honey is a great way to sweeten food, while added living bacteria and enzymes!

Thank you to James Ray for sharing this incredibly yummy and creative recipe! :)

Chocolate Cranberry Cashew Treats

Ingredients:

·       1/2 cup cashews

·       1/4 cup cranberries

·       1/4 cup dates (about Medjool 4 dates, pitted)

·       1/2 lime juiced, freshly squeezed

·       + 3 tbsp cacao nibs for outside coating

Directions:

Blend cashews, cranberries, dates and lime juice in blender.  

Moisten hands (to prevent sticking) and use teaspoon to roll mixture into balls. Mixture should make about 20 one inch balls.

Place cacao nibs in separate bowl and roll balls to coat with cacao nibs.

Refrigerate and enjoy! :) 

Nutrition information, per  treat:
Calories: 30
Carbohydrates: 4 g
   Fiber: 0.75 g
   Sugar: 2 g
Protein: 0.75
Fat: 2 g

   

*Recipe adapted from the "Lara Bar" recipe at DAMY Health.   

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Vegan Zesty Ranch

I had really missed a creamy "Ranch" flavor for salads over the past few years. And then one day it just came to me - use Vegenaise! As the base, I created this "dressing" that matches perfectly with just about anything... salads, quinoa, as a dip for veggies, etc.

Ingredients:

·       1 cup Vegenaise

·       3 cloves of garlic - crushed

·       3 tsp hot sauce

·       2 tbsp coconut milk

·       Optional: cilantro leaves!

Directions:

Whisk all ingredients together with a fork and enjoy on any and everything!

*One of my favorite meals - sautéed vegetables with quinoa on a bed of baby spinach with the Vegan Zesty Ranch dressing. 

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Cheesy Kale Chips (or Salad) with a Kick!

Have you tried any of the delicious flavored kale chips that are now being produced commercially??

They are de-licious!! Only problem is that they're $5-6 for a tiny little bag (and yes, it makes sense that if you take a pound of kale, add in cashews and other high quality ingredients - the cost is high to produce these delicious morsels of kale goodness!) but I was inspired to try and create these myself and was very pleasantly surprised at how well they came out!

I used a dehydrator this time, so more of the nutrients were kept instead of being baked away. Best part - so quick and easy to make.

I was also surprised at how delicious this kale is RAW (no dehydrating or baking necessary), but eaten it as a salad.  The amazing, flavorful dressing makes it perfectly flavorful and have served it to others who  wouldn't have dreamed of using "kale" and "yummy" in the same sentence. But she changed her mind and asked for the recipe :) 

Ingredients:

·       1/2 cup cashews

·       3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper *(can adjust according to spiciness desired)

·       1/4 cup lemon juice

·       1 tbsp coconut palm sugar

·       2 tbsp nutritional yeast

·       1 tsp chili powder *(can adjust according to spiciness desired)

·       few dashes sea salt

·       1 bunch of kale OR Trader Joe's pre-washed & cut kale

Directions:

1. Put all ingredients together (besides kale) in food processor and blend until smooth to make the cheesy flavor "dressing." 

2. Use spatula to spoon out all dressing and mix thoroughly with kale. If using Trader Joe's bagged kale, use about 1/2 the bag.  If using a "bunch" of kale, remove stems and wash thoroughly, breaking apart kale leaves in "chip" size pieces.

I was tempted to stop here and actually HAVE eaten this just as a "kale salad" with this delicious, nourishing dressing. But if your intention is to make CHIPS - then we'll have to continue to the dehydrating step...

3. Take individual kale pieces covered in dressing and lay on dehydrator shelf.  I believe my chips dehydrated over night so they were perfectly crispy and flavor concentrated. Read the settings on your dehydrator to see what temperature and settings it recommends.

4. I found the most difficult step the SHARING part - they're SO good, it's easy to eat them all in one sitting :)

ENJOY!  

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Quick Quinoa

Quinoa is such a versatile grain that tastes great with just about anything you add in! And its considered a "superfood" for all of the nutrition it contains - a complete protein, healthy fats, fiber, B vitamins and loads of minerals - including iron. There are SO many different ways to prepare quinoa, but here's a quick and easy recipe to start.

*Note: my recipes for quinoa vary upon what vegetables are in my fridge. ALL veggies taste great with quinoa (even beets, which I quickly realized turn the WHOLE dish pink), so feel free to add in whatever you have!

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked quinoa (cooked in 4 cups water - bring to a boil and then allow to simmer until all water is gone)

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped tomatoes

1 cup chopped zucchini

1/2 cup cilantro

1/2 cup lemon juice

2 tbsp sesame oil (or olive oil)

1 can garbanzo beans

Directions:

While quinoa is cooking, chop up vegetables.  Allow quinoa to cool after cooking and mix chopped veggies in with quinoa! Serve and enjoy :)

*This picture is my leftover quinoa brought to the office the next day - garnished with 1/2 of an avocado and nutritional yeast... YUM! :)

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Delicious Creamy Vegan Ice Cream in less than 5 minutes!!

*Pictured above (from left to right): Banana Almond Butter Ice Cream, Banana Blueberry Ice Cream, and Banana Spinach Ice Cream (I swear, still yummy)! 

Ready to cool down from all of this summer heat?!  This ice cream is the perfect, delicious snack!! I was really happy with the consistency - it really is thick and creamy like soft serve ice cream! Choose whatever toppings and add-ins you enjoy - heck, even make it a meal with the protein packed almond butter.  You can even add in some spinach for a mineral infused treat :)  

Base Ingredients:

2 frozen bananas (when your old bananas are going bad, take the skin off and freeze the inside)

2 tablespoons almond butter (or peanut butter if you prefer)

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 tsp vanilla

*Variations pictured above: add in 1 cup blueberries or 1 cup spinach. 

 

Directions:

BLEND & ENJOY! 

Get creative and make some fancy garnishes - with berries, mint leaves, coconut whipped cream, cherries, etc!

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Spicy Creamy Vegan Quinoa

This quick and easy recipe is really a combination of two previous posts.  First, I made some Quick Quinoa (with a few variations - pictured dish has peppers, beans, onions & zucchini) and found it missing something... it just seemed too bland! 

So to spice things up a bit, I added the delicious "dressing" Vegan Zesty Ranch to give it some spice and add a creamy texture. And VOILA - delicious!

Perfect lunch, dinner, or even anytime snack. Quinoa is a great snack since it is a complete protein - and very easily transportable in Tupperware! And to add some extra nutrients - try eating your quinoa on a bed of greens :) 

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Delicious Gluten Free Vegan Carrot Muffins with Coconut Icing

Ingredients for muffins:

·       3 cups gluten free all-purpose flour (like Bob's Red Mill)

·       1 tablespoon baking soda

·       1 tablespoon baking powder

·       1 teaspoon xanthan gum

·       1 1/2 teaspoons salt

·       1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

·       2 teaspoons ground ginger

·       1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

·       2/3 cup coconut oil

·       1 cup agave nectar (or honey)

·       1 cup coconut milk (unsweetened - in BOX, not in can)

·       1 tablespoon vanilla extract

·       1/2 cup hot water

·       3 cups shredded carrots

Directions:

·       Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 standard 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.

·       Mix dry ingredients together well with fork or whisk: gf flour, baking soda, baking powder, xantham gum, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.  

·       Melt coconut oil and mix in vanilla extract, coconut milk, and agave nectar.

·       Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix well. Add hot water and continue mixing until batter is smooth.

·       Using a spatula, fold in carrots until evenly distributed.

·       Pour 1/3 cup batter into each prepared cup and cook for 25 minutes.

·       Cool for twenty minutes.

·       Top with Vanilla Coconut Icing and enjoy!

*Recipe adapted from Baby Cakes

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Vanilla Coconut Icing and Fruit Dip

Vanilla Coconut Icing and Fruit Dip

This simple and natural recipe is a GREAT topping as whipped cream or icing on cookies, pies, puddings, fruit and anything else you can think of! ;) 

Ingredients:

·       1 can (15 oz) full fat coconut milk

·       3 tbsp honey, agave syrup or maple syrup (or to taste)

·       1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Place the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator and leave it there until well-chilled; at least a few hours. 
2. Open the can of coconut milk. There will be a firm, waxy layer on top.
3. Scoop out this firm layer coconut cream that has solidified at the top of the can.
4. Stop as soon as you reach the water at the bottom of the can; don't include anything but the solid cream. (You can use the water in smoothies, or just drink it straight.)
5. Place this cream in the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large bowl.
6. Turn your mixer or hand beaters to high speed, and whip the coconut cream for 3 to 5 minutes.
7. Whip until it becomes fluffy and light, with soft peaks. Mix in maple syrup and vanilla, if using.

Enjoy on whatever your heart desires, including muffins, such as carrot muffins!

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Butternut Squash Kale Soup

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
1 large onion, chopped 
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed 
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock 
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary 
3 to 4 cups cooked cannellini beans 
2 to 3 cups chopped kale
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 cup chopped red peppers
freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste

Heat a 6-quart pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil, then add the onions; sauté for 5 to 10 minutes. Then add the celery, butternut squash, stock, and rosemary. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the squash is tender.

Then add the cooked beans, chopped kale, mushrooms, peppers, and sea salt. Simmer for another 3 to 4 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and seasonings if necessary. Serve and enjoy!

Recipe adapted from: www.NourishingMeals.com.

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Spaghetti Squash Pasta!

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*Pictured above: cooked spaghetti squash with pasta sauce (I used Trader Joe's Organic Marinara) and topped with fresh basil.  

Spaghetti squash is an often overlooked alternative to pasta! Great for diabetics who are looking to decrease their carbohydrates and for anyone looking to eat gluten free. This tasty dish is also high in fiber and low in calories (just 40 calories for a CUP of spaghetti squash).

Here's how to make you spaghetti squash a delicious pasta!

Step 1: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. And for the most difficult step - to cut the squash open length-wise, you've got to use some muscles!  After breaking open, clean out the seeds and guts (you can also set aside seeds for baking later).

Step 2. Flip squash (cut side down) in about 1/2 inch of water in a baking pan.  Put in oven to bake for about 45 minutes.

Step 3. Take out of oven and pull apart with fork to check if finished cooking.  When finished, the "spaghetti" strands will pull apart easily when fork combs through. 

Step 4. When finished cooking, top with your favorite spaghetti toppings - tomato sauce, sauteed veggies, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, etc - and ENJOY! 

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