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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Mint Breeze Green Smoothie

Ingredients:

·       1 small banana (about 5")

·       2 handfuls spinach

·       1/2 cup coconut milk

·       1/2 cup mint leaves

·       1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Blend all ingredients together in blender and enjoy! Can adjust proportions of coconut milk to have thicker/thinner smoothie. Makes about 8 ounces.

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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.

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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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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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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Sweet Potato Icing

Ingredients:

3/4 cup cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (still warm)
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Mix together in a blender or food processor and ice your favorite cupcakes or cake, or use as a fruit dip!

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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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GF Vegan Pumpkin Pie

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There are few things that I love more than pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving!!! And I must say that I have been less than impressed with the gluten free, dairy free pies I've had in the past.

This year I've adapted a recipe I found and was delighted with how it came out! I am such a fan of the coconut pecan crust that I am hoping to create new pies just to re-use the crust :) 

Ingredients for crust: 

·       1 Cup Shredded Coconut

·       1 1/4 Cup Pecans + Extra for Topping

·       1 Cup Pitted Dates

·       1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Crust Directions: 

·       Grease pie plate or pan with coconut oil or another healthy oil.

·       Use a food processor to grind all ingredients together for crust to a fine mixture.

·       Scoop crust mixture from food processor and press evenly into baking dish.

·       Refrigerate while making filling ingredients.

Filling Ingredients:

·       1 Cup Pumpkin Puree

·       3/4 Cup Cashew Butter

·       2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

·       1 Tsp Cinnamon

·       1/4 Tsp Ginger

·       3 Tbsp Maple Syrup ( or honey, agave, or stevia)

·       Dash of Salt

Filling Directions:

·       Blend all ingredients in food processor until smooth.

·       Pour into crust and make sure it is evenly spread over crust.

·       Add extra pecans and cinnamon for decoration and top with coconut whip for a sweet finish! 

*Recipe adapted from: Damy Health.

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Hearty and Warming Bone Broth Beef Stew

There are two steps to this delicious and hearty dish! First is to make the bone broth (takes about 12 hours to let simmer), and second is to create the stew.

We'll start with step one - the BONE BROTH:


Did you know...? Bone broth is one of the most mineral rich source of nourishment for humankind throughout the ages! It is a traditional remedy across cultures for the sick and weak. A classic folk treatment for colds and flu, it has also been used historically for ailments that affect connective tissues such as the GI tract, joints, skin, lungs, muscle, bones and blood. Bone broth is a valuable food and valuable medicine!

It contains nutrients from both the bone and cartilage of the animal, including:

·       Protein

·       Minerals: magnesium, sodium, calcium, sulfur, potassium, phosphorus, fluoride

·       Amino acids: proline, lysine, glycine

·       And several other nutrients great for joints and connective tissue (including intestines): keratin sulfate, hyaluronic acid, hydroxyproline, hydroxylysine and chondroitin sulfate

Ingredients:

Bones - from poultry, fish, beef or lamb (can be cooked bones, raw bones, a whole carcass, or just parts)
Water - cold water, enough to just cover the bones OR 2 cups water per 1 lb bones
Vinegar (apple cider, red or white wine, rice or balsamic vinegar) - a splash, or 2 tbsp per quart water

Directions:

Combine bones, water and vinegar in a pot or crockpot. Bring to a simmer, remove any scum that has risen to the top, reduce heat and simmer (anywhere from 6-48 hours for chicken, 12-72 hours for beef).

If using a crockpot, you can put it on a "low" setting and just walk away for 12-24 hours.

Strain broth through a colander or sieve, lined with cheesecloth for a clearer broth. Discard the bones.

If you wish to remove the fat for use in gravy, use a gravy separator while broth is warm, or skim the fat off the top once refrigerated. Broth may be frozen for months or kept in the refrigerator for about 5 days.

Bone broth can also be used for: cooking liquid (instead of water, add to rice, beans or other grains), gravy, or tea.

Reference for bone broth: Soaring Crane Natural Health.

Part 2: Stew Making!

Start with 4 cups of pre-made bone broth and add the following either into a large pot or crockpot: 

·       3 carrots

·       1 onion

·       3 celery stalks

·       1 red pepper

·       3 cups kale

·       1 lb boneless beef in 1" cubes (I found some pre-chopped at Trader Joes)

·       1 can, 14 oz stewed tomatoes

·       2 cups mushrooms

·       4 cloves, minced

If making in crock pot, add in all ingredients and cover.  Cook on Low setting for 10 to 12 hours, or on High setting for 4 to 6 hours.

If short on time and cooking in regular pot, first add 2 tbsp olive oil and simmer beef, onions and garlic on medium heat and cook until beef is browned. Then add bone broth and veggies and allow to simmer until carrots are soft (about 30 min).

Enjoy by eating slowly and letting the stew warm your bones!

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Super Food: Chocolate Berry Pudding

Ingredients:

·       3 tbsp chia seeds

·       1/2 cup coconut milk (unsweetened)

·       1 tbsp cacao nibs

·       1 tbsp goji berries

·       1 tsp vanilla extract 

·       cinnamon, sprinkled to taste

Directions:

Pour 3 tablespoons chia seeds into bowl and mix with coconut milk.  Add vanilla and stir.  Let soak for about ten minutes before adding cacao nibs and goji berries.

Extras to include: nuts, coconut flakes, and fruits! Store in the fridge or eat immediately... and ENJOY!

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Creamy, Quick and Easy Lentil Soup

Ingredients:

• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 3 medium celery stalks, chopped
• 3 medium carrots, chopped
• 1/2 medium yellow onion, small dice
• 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
• 1 quart low-sodium vegetable broth
• 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes with their juices
• 1 1/4 cups lentils (any color except red), soaked overnight
• juice from 1 lemon
• 1 cup parsley
• 3 cups kale, remove stems and chopped into 3" pieces
• Kosher salt
• Black pepper

Instructions:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering, about 3 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add the broth, tomatoes with their juices and lentils and stir to combine. Cover and bring to a simmer, about 15 minutes. Once simmering, reduce the heat to low and continue simmering, covered, until the lentils and vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes more.

Taste and season with more salt or pepper as needed, then stir in the lemon juice. Add the kale and parsley and stir until wilted. If you prefer a creamier texture, purée half of the soup in a blender and add it back to the pot.

And the best part... top with chopped avocado for an extra creamy texture and delicious flavor! 

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Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Truffles

Great Dessert to Share with Friends or the Office.

*Gluten Free and Vegan (Coconut Cinnamon version is also refined sugar free!)

*Gluten Free and Vegan (Coconut Cinnamon version is also refined sugar free!)

The basic "cookie dough" ingredients:

o   1 can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed

o   3 tbsp peanut butter (check to make sure there are no added sugars)

o   2 tbsp almond butter

o   4 dates, pitted and chopped

o   2 tablespoons cacao nibs

o   2 teaspoons stevia powder

o   1 tablespoon chia seeds

o   1 tablespoon flaxseed meal

o   1/2 tsp vanilla extract

o   1 & 1/2 tsp almond extract (gives it a slightly "cherry" taste)

o   1/8 tsp baking soda

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a food processor until well blended.  Mixture will take on a dough consistency when finished.

Scoop out with a teaspoon and form until 1" balls.  The dough should make about 35 balls. And now you have some options for a "topping." 

Option 2: Chocolate Covered   This new recipe is a reduced sugar revision of the old recipe,  Chocolate Cherry Almond Truffles . This Valentine's Day, show someone you really love them by giving them a healthy treat to celebrate your love!

Option 2: Chocolate Covered

This new recipe is a reduced sugar revision of the old recipe, Chocolate Cherry Almond Truffles. This Valentine's Day, show someone you really love them by giving them a healthy treat to celebrate your love!

Option 1: Coconut Cinnamon Truffles  (lower in sugar)

Option 1: Coconut Cinnamon Truffles (lower in sugar)

*This is a great option for someone who needs to watch their sugars (like for diabetes or someone who is trying to lose weight). It has a delightful light coconut and cinnamon flavor!

Directions:
Mix 3 tablespoons of shredded coconut (unsweetened) with 3 teaspoons of cinnamon. Roll balls until covered in coconut and top with sprinkled cinnamon.

Nutrition Information(per one treat):

Calories: 34
Carbohydrates: 4 g
     Fiber: 1 g
     Sugar: 0.5 g
Protein: 1 g
Fat: 2 g

Option 2: Chocolate Covered


For anyone who loves chocolate, this is a great chocolate covered treat! Full of nutrition - and healthy fats from coconut oil.

Directions:
Using a double-boiler, melt 1/3 cup chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life -gluten, dairy and soy free) in 1 tbsp coconut oil.  Mix together until forming a liquid consistency.  Dip cookie dough balls into chocolate mixture, until well covered. Store in refrigerator to allow the outer coat of chocolate to harden.

Nutrition Information (per one treat):
Calories: 45
Carbohydrates: 5 g
    Fiber: 1 g
    Sugar: 1.5 g
Protein: 1.2 g
Fat: 3 g

ENJOY! :) 

If anyone is searching for the Chocolate Cranberry Cashew Treats <- here is the link for the recipe and instructions. 

 

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Creamy Peanut Butter Smoothie

Blend all ingredients and feel free to adjust coconut milk ratio for thicker/thinner smoothie.

Ingredients:

·       3 cups spinach

·       1 cup coconut milk

·       2 tbsp peanut butter

·       2 tsp vanilla extract

·       2 ripe bananas (can be fresh or frozen)

Genius Idea!

For Us Peanut Lovers~

Peanut Butter Hummus

Ingredients:

·       1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

·       4 tbsp creamy peanut butter

·       1 tbsp olive oil

·       Fresh lemon juice (squeezed from 1 lemon)

·       1/3 cup water

·       1 tsp garlic powder

 

Directions:

Mix all ingredients in a food processor. 

OR if you'd like to include children in this process:

Place the garbanzo beans in the bottom of a large non-breakable mixing bowl.  Begin mashing the beans using a potato masher.  If making the recipe with children, allow each child to take a turn mashing the beans.  Gradually add the remaining ingredients and continue to mash until the mixture is blended and smooth.

*For dipping:

·       Celery, carrot, zucchini, cucumber, red or green peppers or jicama sticks.  Can also serve with tortillas or tortilla chips.

·        

Source: "How to Teach Nutrition to Kids" by Connie Liakos Evers, MS, RD.

Kid Favorite

Carrots make great dipping sticks