balance, brunch, easy, gluten free, quick, recipe, snacks, vegan, vegetarian

Tropical Oat Bars

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Sometimes, you want to eat seasonally, like enjoying ice cream in the summer to beat the heat, or cozy up with a hot bowl of soup in the winter to warm up. And sometimes, it just gets so damn cold that you decide to protest the weather and fantasize about a dreamy tropical getaway and have to make some snacks that help you do just that.

I don’t really do new year’s resolutions, but I almost always go refined sugar free in January as a body refresh and reset. I do pretty well at resisting the baked goods during the holidays but even I occasionally find myself indulging in more than my fair share of homemade cinnamon rolls, pumpkin pie and holiday cookies. I am a firm believer in enjoying your food always and embracing the treats of the season are a part of enjoying time with family and remembering traditions. That doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate a break from it all come January.

Going refined sugar free works really well for me, I work well with boundaries and telling myself that I am not having something is often easier than I will eat less of something.

I love snacking on whole foods when I’m running between school, work or just heading to a workout, but many bars you find in stores are loaded with extra sugar or just weird ingredients. That, and I can make my own bars in about 15 minutes for a lot less.

Here are some tropical banana, oat, toasted coconut and almond bars that are naturally sweetened, full of healthy fat and fiber to help get you through these long, dark winter days. You could always add some dried pineapple or mango for an extra tropical feel, just make sure your dried fruit doesn’t have any added sugar.


 

Tropical Oat Bars

Prep Time : 10 minutes | Total Time : 15 minutes

Ingredients

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup honey

1 1/2 cups oats (I used Trader Joe’s Gluten Free)

1 cup roasted and unsalted almonds

1/2 pepitas

1 cup banana chips

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Instructions :

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  • In a small saucepan, combine coconut oil, maple syrup and honey over heat on low until simmering.
  • Spread oats and coconut flakes on a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes (watch to make sure they don’t burn)
  • When oats and coconut flakes are done, mix in a  bowl with almonds, pepitas and banana chips and cover with oil and syrup mixture.

 

 

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  • Mix to combine and pour into 9X9 baking pan.
  • Place in refrigerator until solid, slice and enjoy. Store in refrigerator.

 

 

breakfast, easy, gluten free, quick, snacks, vegan

Maple Pumpkin Granola (GF, Vegan)

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I have been ready for fall for a while. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the sunshine and warm weather as much as the next person, but not all the time. There is something so comforting about the changing leaves, a slight chill in the area and the coziness of drinking a cup of tea and baking on a Sunday afternoon when it’s grey out. I also think that pumpkin is an underrated squash that only really gets hype around Halloween and Thanksgiving and love using it in all my cooking, including both savory things and sweet.

I’ve been craving some hearty granola, but most of the stuff you buy in the store has a lot of sugar and is highly processed. I wanted some granola that had all of the flavors of fall I love so much, but without the refined sugar. My criteria also included something with healthy fat and lots of plant protein.

Enter my maple pumpkin granola. It’s sweetened with a little maple syrup and some apple juice, pecans and pumpkin seeds for crunch, raw pumpkin for some yummy pumpkin flavor, flax meal for heart healthy omega 3’s and coconut flakes for something a little different.

I am so happy with how this granola turned out, my kitchen smelled amazing  and I could hardly wait to sample this when it came out of the oven. Not only is it delicious but it far exceeded my nutritional criteria and contains vitamins A and C, healthy fat, lots of protein, fiber and iron. I hope you will love this just as much as me, this was so easy to throw together in a few minutes and enjoy all week as breakfast or just a tasty snack.


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Maple Pumpkin Granola

Prep Time : 10 minutes | Bake time : 45 minutes

Ingredients :

2 cups raw oats

2/3 cup raw pecans

2/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (can also use raw)

1/3 cup unsweetened raw coconut flakes

1/3 cup flax meal

1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup apple juice unsweetened

2 tablespoon coconut oil

1/2 cup raw pumpkin

Instructions :

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix.

Combine apple juice, maple syrup and pumpkin in medium size bowl. Microwave coconut oil to melt and add to remaining wet ingredients.

Pour wet mixture over dry ingredients and mix thoroughly to coat.

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Spread on a large cookie sheet to cover. Bake for 20 minutes and stir. Bake for additional 20-25 minutes until golden brown and remove from oven and allow to sit and cool.

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Enjoy with almond milk or over yogurt or just by the handful which I ended up doing because it was too delicious to not snack on!

easy, gluten free, quick, snacks, vegan

Easy Energy?!

What? It’s that simple? Well, sort of. Choosing to put good fuel into your body will keep you going and help you tackle those meetings, your workout, and anything else that comes your way. A little planning will help you continue to stay on track no matter how busy, and these bites are just the thing for that! Whether I’m running to school, work or just a workout when I want something slightly sweet but also nutritionally balanced, I reach for these. They take minutes to pull together and are the perfect balance of protein, heart healthy omegas and fiber to help you feel full between meals and feel satiated! Enjoy!

Date Almond Bites 

Prep Time : 1 hour | Cook time : 10 minutes

Ingredients :

1 cup oats

10 dates

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut flakes

2 tablespoons chia seeds

1/2 cup raw almonds

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Instructions :

1. Combine oats, cinnamon, chia seeds and coconut flakes in your food processor. Pulse until oats have broken down and you get a meal that looks like this.

2. Add dates and almonds to your food processor and continue to pulse until mixture begins to come together.

3. Your mixture will begin to ball up in your food processor, when this happens, pause and scrape down the sides and continue to pulse until it resembles this.

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4. When you get the mixture, dump out your food processor and roll into 1 inch size balls and store in the fridge. When you need a quick snack grab a few and take them with you. Hope you enjoy!

dinner, gluten free, risotto, vegan, vegetarian

Spring Risotto with Vegetables

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We all have a dish that we’ve mastered and love to make. Maybe, this dish also happens to be something people love and are easily impressed with. In my case this is risotto.

I know we’ve talked about risotto before, but I love it so much and it’s really become the thing I make for dinner when I don’t want to think about cooking. The good thing about risotto is that you can really add anything to it and make it delicious. Once you master the basics of cooking the rice, the possibilities are endless for what you can make.

My hope is that I’ll inundate you with enough risotto recipes over time that one of them will really spark your interest to try it. Then, as time goes on, you’ll try another and another until it too is your go to dinner option when you want something delicious, easy and comforting.

Since I’m starting to feel springy I decided to throw together a risotto with some green veggies to help get those much needed daily vitamins and antioxidants in the most delicious way possible. This recipe is vegan (without the fried egg) and offers great protein from the edamame even if you choose to forgo the egg option. It’s creamy, comforting and feels decadent without a lot of empty calories.

I encourage you to try this one, but if it’s not this risotto, then hopefully the next, or the one after that 🙂

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Spring Risotto with Asparagus, Zucchini and Edamame

Prep Time : 10 minutes | Cook Time : 40 minutes | Serves 4

Ingredients : 

1 cup arborio rice

1 32 ounce vegetable broth

1/4 cup house white wine

1 small yellow onion

2 cloves garlic

2 medium zucchini

1 large bunch asparagus

1/2 cup frozen shelled edamame

2 eggs (optional)

1 tablespoon vegan margarine

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons avocado oil

salt & pepper

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Instructions : 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Add broth to a medium saucepan and warm over low heat.

3. Wash and clean asparagus and zucchini if desired. Slice zucchini lengthwise twice and chop into medium size pieces shown above. Cut off ends of asparagus and slice stalks into bite size pieces. Toss with avocado oil and salt and pepper and place on baking sheet and place in oven once preheated. Cook for 15 minutes stirring once and check doneness. You want them to be cooked  but still a bit firm since you will add them to the risotto and cook further.

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4. While you’re waiting for the oven to preheat, dice onion and garlic. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and melt margarine over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and saute to soften and release aroma, approximately 2-3 minutes. Add rice to pan and saute for about 3-4 minutes until rice is a bit toasty. Add wine to pan and cook until absorbed.

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5. Once all the wine has been absorbed, start adding broth a bit at a time. I honestly never measure this because I always end up using all the broth so just pour some in and use your best judgement. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring often until liquid is absorbed. Repeat until broth is gone.

6. When vegetables are done, remove from oven and set aside. Remove edamame from freezer and cook according to instructions and set aside.

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7. Taste risotto to test doneness-best part of the process 😉 and when it’s almost done add your vegetables. A good way to know this is that you have 1/4-1/2 cup of broth left and its a BIT crunchier than you would normally like. We want to it to stay a bit al dente but not fight back.

8. Continue to cook with vegetables and until all broth is gone. Season with salt and pepper to your liking, in my experience this and a good broth with the roasted veggies will add enough flavor but I think nutritional yeast could be good or even garlic powder.

9. When it’s done, scoop it into your bowls and get ready to feast and enjoy! If you want to add a fried egg, see below.

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10. You decided you wanted a little something extra did you? No shame in that friend! I’m going to assume you’ve fried an egg before but for the sake of explanation I’ll continue. Get yourself a small skillet, spray with non stick spray and heat over medium heat. Crack your egg into pan and cook just until the white is opaque and flip, about 1-2 minutes. Flip over and cook for about another minute, you don’t want to overcook because you want the yolk to be runny. Something like this.

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11. After you flip that sucker over and it’s done, throw it on your risotto, break open that yolk, stir and get to enjoying!

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Happy feasting!

dinner, gluten free, weeknight

Spicy Shrimp Tacos

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We love shrimp.  We  buy the massive packages at Costco that should probably take normal people months to go through and devour them in weeks. They are so delicious and easy to cook, they’re a great option to turn to for protein and iron. I tend to put our shrimp with polenta or pasta but last night I wanted to do something different.

Last weekend we were down in California visiting some good friends and they took us to a super delicious restaurant featuring all sorts of yummy vegan options. We ended up sharing a spicy tomato pizza with a creamy cashew sauce that was incredible. I seriously could not tell it wasn’t dairy and it just added this extra level of deliciousness to the pizza.

I’ve been wanting to try getting into non-dairy creamy sauces for a while and thought I’d give it a try with this cashew based sauce. It was intimidating at first, and admittedly you do have to do some groundwork, and incorporate time to soak the cashews for a while but with a bit of planning it comes together super easy. It’s so delicious and full of good fat, protein and magnesium- you won’t even miss the dairy.

Making your own pico de gallo is also crazy easy and only takes a few ingredients. I made my ahead of time so the flavors could marry and develop. This recipes just takes a bit of prep work, let your ingredients sit and then take a few minutes to pull it all together. Great for a weeknight dinner or even for a group of friends.


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Spicy Shrimp Tacos with Pico de Gallo and Garlic Cashew Cream Sauce

Prep Time : 2 hours | Cook Time : 10 minutes | Serves 2

Ingredients : 

Pico de Gallo 

4 roma tomatoes

1/2 red onion

2 limes juiced

1 large clove garlic

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Salt

Shrimp

20 large shrimp

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt & Pepper

1 teaspoon Paprika

1 teaspoon Garlic Powder

1 teaspoon Cayenne Powder

Other Ingredients :

Corn Tortillas

Avocado

Instructions :

1. For the pico de gallo, chop all ingredients for salsa and stir together with lime juice in a bowl. Add salt to taste. Let sit in fridge for at least half hour before serving.

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2. Toss the shrimp with a olive oil and coat. Sprinkle with spices, add more or less cayenne depending on your spice preference. I let this sit in the fridge too for a few hours to let the flavors marinate but you can definitely do this right before and cook.

3. When ready to put tacos together, cook shrimp over medium high heat for about 5 minutes until opaque throughout. Assemble tacos with shrimp, pico de gallo, avocado slices and cream sauce.

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Garlic Cashew Cream Sauce

Ingredients :

1 1/2 cups raw cashews

1/2 cup cold water

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

Instructions :

1. To prep the cashews, soak them in a bowl with water covering at least an inch. You want to let them sit at least a half hour but I let mine sit for a couple hours.

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2. When they are done soaking, throw them in the blender with 1/2 cup water and vinegar and let it blend. It will take a while but you want to let this go until it gets to a smooth consistency.

3. Add salt and garlic powder, I think fresh garlic would also be super great in this or roasted garlic, I just was feeling lazy. In the end you get a super creamy, rich sauce that compliments the freshness of the pico de gallo and the spiciness of the shrimp.

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Try these tacos out on your next taco Tuesday for something a bit different and dairy free. Make the time to prep the stuff ahead of time and then go have yourself a nice glass of wine and enjoy some netflix, when it’s time to eat throw it all together and enjoy! Have a fantastic weekend!

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