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

Fall in love with Pumpkin

gallery-1501788912-pumpkin-puns

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

img_3226

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.

 

 

img_3230

  • 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)

img_3085

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.


img_2378

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.

img_2384

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.

img_2387

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.

thumb_img_0324_1024

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)

IMG_9531

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?

FullSizeRender

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.

IMG_9510

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.

IMG_9505


 

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.

FullSizeRender 5

3. Gradually add flour until completely mixed in.

IMG_9514

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

IMG_9515

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

IMG_9519

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.

IMG_9523

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.

IMG_9524

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!

 

 

dinner, gluten free, risotto, vegan, vegetarian

Spring Risotto with Vegetables

IMG_5735

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 🙂

IMG_5753


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

IMG_5733

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.

IMG_5739

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.

IMG_5732

IMG_5736

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.

 IMG_5745

IMG_5743

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.

IMG_5750

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.

IMG_5751

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!

IMG_5755

IMG_5756

Happy feasting!

dinner, vegan

Creamy Asparagus Soup (Vegan)

IMG_5765

My beautiful and wonderful mother came to visit us this week from the magical land of Idaho. It’s about a 9 hour drive from her door to ours so I end up chatting with her during the drive to make it go faster, mostly for me since I can’t wait to see her. While chatting this time she mentioned since this trip over will be a bit longer than normal she had cleaned out the items in her fridge before leaving, and she was bringing a bunch of asparagus.

I love asparagus, it smells like summer to me, putting it on the grill and eating it with your hands while the sunlight fades. Unfortunately on this day it was rather rainy and chilly in Seattle so I decided to go another route this time. Manfriend had also been fighting off a cold so I thought some warm comforting soup would hit the spot for everyone.

I started this soup with no real plan and it somehow came together incredibly. This is one of the easiest things I’ve done and is so healthy and fulfilling. Since the soup is creamy I decided to make some homemade croutons to contribute some crunch on top and they were the perfect addition. Give this a try the next time you want an easy weeknight meal, enjoy!


Creamy Vegan Asparagus Soup with Homemade Croutons

Prep Time : 10 minutes | Cook Time : 30 minutes | Serves : 4

Ingredients :

Soup

1 large bunch fresh asparagus

1/2 yellow onion

3 large cloves of garlic

Avocado Oil

Salt & Pepper

Thyme

3/4 cup Vegetable Stock

1/2 cup Garlic Cashew Cream Sauce (See recipe here)

Ingredients :

2 large slices of french or other bread

Avocado Oil

Salt & Pepper

Thyme

Instructions :

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop asparagus into medium size pieces. Chop onion into large pieces. Toss asparagus with onion and garlic (in skin) in drizzle of avocado oil and toss with salt and pepper and thyme and place in oven. Roast for 15-20 minutes until cooked.

IMG_5757

2. Remove vegetables from oven and let sit for 5 minutes to cool. Remove garlic from skin and place with asparagus and onion in blender. Add vegetable stock and cashew cream and blend to combine all ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can add less stock if you like a creamier soup, but this works out really well.

3. When you remove vegetables from oven, turn heat down to 350 degrees. Cut bread into large cubes and toss with oil, salt, pepper and thyme. Cook in oven for 10 minutes or until lightly browned and crispy.

IMG_5758

4. Remove soup from blender (my vitamix heats the soup if you leave it in there, otherwise, microwave if necessary to warm up) and pour into bowls to serve.

5. Add toasted croutons on top and enjoy! I added a dollop of cashew cream sauce on top and it rocked!

IMG_5769

IMG_5764