balance, breakfast, brunch, dessert, easy, gluten free, health, quick, recipe, snacks, vegan

Berry Good Raspberry Cheesecakes

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So, my hubby and I recently watched the documentary “What the Health” – have you seen this? I have lived on a mostly plant based diet my entire life, with the exception of the occasional dairy/seafood add in. My husband however, eats meat and dairy and just about everything. I am not one to push my lifestyle or dietary choices on other, and completely respect other options. After watching this documentary though, at the suggestion of a friend, he decided he wanted to try eliminating meat/dairy from his diet.

I was a full fledged vegan a few years back, and in the more recent years got a bit lazy with the inclusion of greek yogurt and eggs. One of my new year’s resolutions was to go back to being completely plant based with the nutritional know-how I had after getting my degree in nutrition.

I have been working a lot more on trying new things and working with ingredients I already have in the kitchen. I also recently discovered I have an allergy to cane sugar and like most of us, could stand to avoid this anyway. I have been experimenting with baking with dates and using alternatives like maple syrup since I feel that they are a healthier and often tastier option anyway.

I’ve played around with dairy substitutes but I love cashews for their healthy fats, protein and creaminess when it comes to desserts. I literally threw these together the other night before we ran out the door to a comedy show after soaking some cashews all afternoon. I used what I had in the kitchen and they came together wonderfully. You can use any fruit in these, I used raspberry because I love them and the color was divine. Same goes for the hazelnuts in the crust, almonds would be fine but I loved the flavor of these. Another great thing about this recipe is the simplicity of the ingredients, not counting the water there are 8 unique things in the crust and filling combined.

Hope you enjoy – let me know if you try them. I even had one of these for breakfast the other day, when you make things that use whole foods, and plant based foods, you never have to feel guilty about indulging. These are packed with healthy fats, protein, fiber, antioxidants and vitamins- that’s a win for everyone.


 

Plant Powered Raspberry Cheesecake Bites (vegan, paleo, gluten free)

Servings : 6 | Prep time | 1 hours | Hands on time : 30  minutes

Ingredients : 

Crust

  • 1 cup gluten free oats
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts
  • 2 tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 5 dates

Filling

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup frozen raspberries

Directions :

  1. Pour boiling water over cashews and allow to sit for 1 hour covered. You can wrap a towel around your bowl to further insulate.
  2. For the crust, combine oats and nuts in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add dates and pulse for about 30 seconds. Add melted oil and maple syrup and allow to mix until a somewhat sticky mixture forms. Evenly divide mixture into muffin tin or use a spring form pan.
  3. Combine soaked cashews, 1/4 cup cold fresh water, maple syrup, coconut oil, lemon juice in a food processor or high powered blender to until creamy. Add in raspberries and mix until berries are incorporated. Pour evenly into crusts and top with additional frozen raspberries if you like. Put in freezer for 30 minutes until firm. Can store in fridge as well, or freezer for a nice frozen treat for up a week

 

Have fun with these, I promise you won’t miss the dairy!

 

 

balance, breakfast, brunch, easy, gluten free, health, quick, recipe, snacks, vegan

Obsessed with Omegas

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I like to think of granola as a treat, or something for dessert because they are often so sweet, especially the ones you get from the grocery store or in cafes. My husband has been eating a lot of it lately and I remembered how easy it is to throw together, so I decided to whip some up on Sunday.

I felt like baking, but I’ve been avoiding refined sugar so far this year and knew that making some cookies would just be too much temptation, but a healthier option like granola would fit the bill. I also wanted to make something that checked the boxes I require in a snack : healthy fat, protein, fiber and tasty!

This granola is all of those things, it took 40 minutes from start to finish, including 30 minutes of baking time. Give it a try the next time you want a healthy snack, tasty breakfast or just to impress your brunch guests or make your house smell amazing! The secret is the almond extract – you can leave it out but it adds an extra touch that makes this granola irresistible.



Omega Rich Almond Butter Granola

Prep time : 10 minutes | Cook time : 30 minutes

Ingredients :

Dry –

  • 3 cups organic gluten free oats
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 4 tablespoons flax meal
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Wet –

  • 1/2 cup creamy unsalted almond butter
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
  3. Mix together almond butter, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla and almond extract and microwave for 30 minutes until coconut oil is melted and stir to combine.
  4. Pour wet mixture over dry mixture and stir to coat all ingredients.
  5. Layer on baking sheet with silpat or spray with non-stick spray.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, remove from open and let sit for 15 minutes before breaking up and serving. Can be stored on counter for up to a week but I doubt it will last that long in your house.


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This granola is packed with protein, fiber and lots of healthy fats and has much less sugar than store bought options.  Walnuts, almonds and flaxseeds are full of omega 3’s which many western diets are lacking, and 1 tablespoon of flax includes 3 grams of fiber – almost 11% of your daily amount.

You’ll find lots of iron, magnesium, b vitamins and calcium in this snack so you can feel good about noshing on it any time of day!

Give it a try and let me know how you like it!

Cheers!

balance, breakfast, dessert, easy, gluten free, health, pumpkin, quick, recipe, smoothie, vegan

Fall in love with Pumpkin

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Ok, so I know I don’t have to sell anyone on how awesome pumpkin is, it’s easily the most popular fall flavor, we find it in lattes, muffins, patches, skincare and basic hashtags all over instagram. Aside from being trendy, pumpkin is actually super good for you.

Pumpkin is packed with fiber which helps you feel fuller longer so adding this tasty member of the squash family to your oatmeal, smoothies or even soup is a great healthy choice. They are also packed with vitamin C to help you fight that fall cold and full of beta carotene and antioxidants to help lower blood pressure and even improve eyesight. we often think of bananas when we think of potassium, but pumpkin also boasts this nutrient helping you recover from those tough fall runs in the rain.

Give this delicious smoothie a try the next time you want a pumpkin drink, it’s vegan, gluten free and full of fiber and vitamins. For an extra boost add your favorite plant based protein powder.

Perfect Pumpkin Smoothie

½ cup pumpkin puree

½ banana

⅓ cup oats

½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

2 ice cubes

1 cup nondairy milk

 

If you just can’t get enough pumpkin, you may want to try a pumpkin body scrub. Penelope and the Beauty Bar in the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Seattle has a full body polish or foot scrub and massage to take your pumpkin pampering to the next level. Pumpkin is great for the skin because of all of it’s fruit enzymes and alpha hydroxy acids which are often found in high end skin products. The vitamin C and A help sooth skin and boost collagen production to help prevent the signs of aging.

I checked out their food scrub and I have to say, even though my tootsies are tucked warmly away inside my boots this season, they are so incredibly smooth and soft. I walked away from my scrub feeling so relaxed and refreshed, my technician did an amazing job and my feet smelled amazing afterwards.

The benefits don’t stop there, you can make pumpkin lotion, lip balm and even face masks.

If you are interested in a DIY version, give this one a try from One Green Planet

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup organic canned pumpkin (or homemade pumpkin puree)

  • Mix sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon together. Mix with pumpkin. Put on skin, scrub in circular motion, and rinse. All smooth and clean!

 

Hope you have fun this fall and find a new way to enjoy our favorite fall flavor – let me know your favorite unique ways to use pumpkin! #squashgoals

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!

chocolate, dessert, easy, vegan

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles (vegan)

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Now that I have your attention, I have to start off by apologizing. I’ve been very bad and it’s been many moons since I last posted. That is mainly because of some exciting updates that have happened in the past year.

  • I got engaged! Woooh! If you’ve ever planned a wedding, you know, this is a full time job.
  • I quit my job! Hooray~ no more boring day job!
  • I went back to school full time! I am now a full fledged student at Bastyr University,  working on my degree in Nutrition and Exercise Science.

The reality is, I consider myself incredibly lucky to have the freedom to quit my day job, and pursue my dream to move into a world of eventual self employment and helping others through nutrition and movement plans to be healthier, happier individuals.

Even the healthiest person likes to indulge from time to time and I don’t know about you but cookie dough is just about my favorite thing in the world. I’m not even really a big cookie fan, most of the time I just make cookies to eat the dough and give away the cookies. So vegan cookie dough is the best case scenario because it’s completely safe to eat raw and why not just cut out the baked cookie in this equation and skip to what I really like eating. I mean, just look at this gorgeous cookie dough, don’t you just want to dive in?

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I’m a few weeks behind on a Valentine’s Day post, but I made these beauties a few weeks ago when I felt like treating myself to something special. Valentine’s day does not have to just be about romantic love, love for your friends, pets, family  members and most importantly, yourself should also be recognized on this special day (not to mention every other day).

These cookie dough truffles were just the thing to hit the spot this year when I wanted something delicious, easy and somewhat indulgent while still containing healthier ingredients. I used vegan butter and organic coconut sugar and non-dairy chocolate chips so they are also cruelty free – winning! The coconut sugar really lends a more deep caramel flavor to these that make them stand out so I recommend not subbing the sugar.

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I hope the next time you feel like you want to take a little extra effort show yourself a bit of self love, you’ll consider these lovely bites, not just on Valentine’s Day but any day.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles (vegan)

Easy to make truffles for yourself, your special someone, or any party to impress your friends. These truffles look super fancy, taste incredible and are completely vegan! 

Servings : 20           Time : 1 hour

Ingredients

1 stick vegan butter (room temperature)

3/4 cup organic coconut sugar

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

2 tablespoons non-dairy milk (I used rice)

½ cup mini chocolate chips (non dairy)

1 teaspoon coconut oil

1 package dark chocolate chips (non dairy)

Red and white sprinkles

Instructions

Truffle Filling

  1. Cream together sugar and vegan butter until fully combined and no lumps remain.
  2. Add vanilla, salt and non dairy milk and stir to combine.

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3. Gradually add flour until completely mixed in.

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4. Stir in mini chocolate chips (I used about a 1/2 cup but more is always ok in my book)

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5. Using a spoon, create rounded spoonfuls and place onto baking sheet. Put into fridge for 30-45 minutes to firm up.

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Truffle Assembly 

About 5 minute before your truffles are completely chilled, combine your dark chocolate chips and coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl.

Heat on high in increments of 30 seconds, stirring frequently to get a smooth, completely melted shiny mixture.

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Throw those chilled cookie dough balls in to their delicious chocolate bath and roll them around and make sure they are completely coated. Set them back in their pan and let dry for a few seconds before topping off with some sprinkles of your choosing. I did red and white for valentine’s day but these would be great for any occasion with no sprinkles or any color.

*One note on the sprinkles, you want to wait a few seconds so they don’t get completely absorbed into the chocolate but not too long or they won’t stick. If you see the chocolate getting hard, you’ve waited too long.

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Once they are all coated in chocolate and sprinkles, stick them back in the fridge for a few minutes so the chocolate can firm up. When they’re ready, take these little balls of heaven out and enjoy! You will want to store these in the fridge but they can be left out for a while if you are taking them to a party or serving them to guests. But if you’re like me, and you save them all for yourself, that won’t be necessary 🙂

 

Hope you guys enjoy these as much as I did and thanks so much for sticking with me through my very long hiatus. I promise to be more diligent and bring you lots of inspiring yummy posts in the future!

Cheers!