Valentine’s Day Chocolate Bark

Valentine's Day Chocolate Bark

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I wanted to share a recipe for a homemade sweet treat that you can give to loved ones or even enjoy yourself! I don’t know if you can even consider this a recipe because it’s so incredibly easy, but I figured it was worth sharing in case you’re still searching for Valentine’s Day gift ideas last minute. When it comes to Valentine’s Day gifts, chocolates are always hugely popular, but why buy a generic box when you can so easily make chocolate of your own? Chocolate bark is beyond simple and it’s so much more meaningful than boxed chocolates because you can personalize the bark however you want, depending on what the recipient likes. It looks so pretty too! Continue reading “Valentine’s Day Chocolate Bark”

Lentil Pasta Primavera (Vegan & Gluten Free)

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So somehow it’s Friday again already. I’m not complaining because it’s my favorite day of the week (well maybe after Saturday). I’m just wondering where the days went! This week seemed to go by in a blur for some reason. Anyone else?

Anyway, I’m popping in today to share one of my favorite new-to-me recipes, courtesy of my mother-in-law, Carol. When Carol came to visit us shortly after we had Jackson (back in 2016), she made a pasta dish for dinner one night that completely knocked my socks off. It was essentially just pasta tossed with sauteed vegetables that were seasoned with olive oil, spices, and lemon juice. If it sounds super basic, that’s because it is, but don’t let that fool you! The flavor is fantastic. I was honestly surprised at how much I liked it because I’m typically much more of a tomato sauce person when it comes to pasta and never choose to order an olive oil-based dish when I go to restaurants. I liked it so much, though, that I’ve now added the recipe to my shortlist of standbys, and I request it every time Carol comes to stay with us! Continue reading “Lentil Pasta Primavera (Vegan & Gluten Free)”

Peanut Butter Banana Oat Muffins (Gluten & Dairy Free)

I’ve been dealing with an annoying sinus infection for the past few days (oh the joys of pregnancy!) and, in addition to lots of tea and soup, I’ve been craving baked goods like crazy. Go figure. I had a few bananas that were on their last leg, so I decided to whip up some fresh muffins. To satisfy my desire for comfort food, I wanted to try a version that includes peanut butter. Peanut butter is one of my all-time favorite foods, so anything with peanut butter as a main ingredient is guaranteed to be a treat! Continue reading “Peanut Butter Banana Oat Muffins (Gluten & Dairy Free)”

Mushroom, Kale, & White Bean Pizza (Vegan)

Mushroom, Kale, & White Bean Pizza

It’s pizza Friday over here in our house, my fave day of the week! Anyone else share this tradition? It’s something I just recently started up because I’ve been craving pizza like crazy during my pregnancy, but I think it may just stick around. There was a time when I avoided pizza like the plague, but I love it so much and life’s too short, so it’s back in my life in regular rotation again. I choose to mostly make it myself now though because, for one, it’s actually pretty simple, and two, I like to have control over the ingredients that go into it. Otherwise I wind up feeling stuffed, bloated, and lethargic. Continue reading “Mushroom, Kale, & White Bean Pizza (Vegan)”

Smokey Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus (Vegan, No Oil)

Smokey Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus

There are certain foods that I can’t ever seem to buy enough of. Hummus is one of them.  We go through SO much hummus at my house and we always find ourselves running out before our next grocery run. I just find it to be so versatile. It’s great with veggies and crackers of course, but I also love it on a baked potato, on toast, as a sandwich spread–the list is endless! I could just load up on more at the store so that it lasts longer, but I’m trying really hard to stick to a specific grocery budget each week, and I don’t want to adjust it just to accommodate our apparent hummus obsession! I had a bad experience attempting to make hummus many years ago, and never really tried again since then…until this past weekend. I figured I may as well give it a shot because making my own is not only more economical, but also healthier. I’m pleased to report that I think this version is a winner!   Continue reading “Smokey Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus (Vegan, No Oil)”

Immune Boosting Soba Noodle Soup (Vegan)

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We’re sick with colds over here, AGAIN. That makes the second time in a month! I think we have daycare germs to thank for that. Normally a cold is no big deal, but when you’re pregnant and are so limited in what you can take to get relief, it can be pretty miserable. In my first pregnancy, I somehow didn’t get sick once, but so far in my second pregnancy, I’ve been sick a number of times and it’s not pleasant! I like to turn to natural remedies as much as possible even when I’m not expecting, but while pregnant, I don’t have much of a choice. Earlier in the week when I was feeling particularly lousy, I decided to make a batch of soup in an effort to relieve some of my congestion. There’s nothing better than a steaming bowl of homemade soup when you’re sick and stuffy! Although chicken soup gets all the glory, veggie-based soups are packed with immune-boosting ingredients to help get you well in a flash.

There’s nothing fancy about this veggie and soba noodle soup I’m sharing today, but sometimes the simplest recipes are the best. This soup contains onions, garlic, ginger, and turmeric, all warming ingredients that can help with immunity, plus carrots, kale and broccoli, which are loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients. It’s filling and satisfying without being heavy, and offers the comfort that comes with homemade soup.

One side note about garlic. I learned from my sister (who is a nutritionist) years ago that if you really want to get the most out of garlic when it comes to immunity, you need to eat it raw. I know this isn’t the most appetizing way to eat garlic, but there are ways to make it more palatable. After chopping a couple cloves into small pieces and letting it sit for about 15 minutes, which apparently boosts its healthy compounds, I like to mix it into some hummus and eat it on a few crackers. It’s pungent, for sure, but edible. Obviously when you’re already sick with something it’s not going to magically cure you, but if you eat some raw garlic at the first signs of illness, I think it can definitely help! I had some in addition to the cooked garlic in the soup for an extra boost. Bad-breath aside, it always seems to make me feel a little better. Anyway, I hope you’re managing to stay well this winter and if you decide to try this soup, be sure to let me know!

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups yellow onion, chopped (about two medium onions)
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp low sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 8 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 8-oz. package soba noodles
  • 2 cups frozen chopped kale (I used Whole Foods’ Organic Blue Curled Kale)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cups frozen broccoli

Directions

  1. Add a couple tablespoons of vegetable broth to the bottom of a large pot to prevent sticking (or add a bit of olive oil) and toss in the chopped onions and garlic.
  2. Let the onions and garlic saute for a few minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally, and then add in the carrots, ginger, and turmeric. Continue cooking and stirring for about five more minutes and then add in the vegetable broth and tamari (or soy sauce).
  3. Bring broth to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and let cook until the carrots are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
  4. While the broth is cooking, prepare the soba noodles in a separate pot based on the package directions and set aside (I like to keep the broth and noodles separate so that the noodles don’t get mushy but you could cook the noodles in the soup if desired).
  5. Once the broth is about done, add in the frozen vegetables (kale, peas, and broccoli) and let cook for about 4-5 more minutes, until the vegetables are heated through.
  6. To serve, add soba noodles to the bowls and then top with broth.

*Adapted from Fork, Knife, Swoon’s Ginger Miso Soba Soup

 

Immune Boosting Soba Noodle Soup

Almond Butter Granola (Vegan & Gluten Free)

Almond Butter Granola

During my last Trader Joe’s run I discovered an almond butter granola and couldn’t resist picking it up. In all honesty, I may have liked it a little too much because it didn’t last more than two days in my house! Oops. There are certain things that I have a hard time eating in moderation (like chips) and apparently granola is one of them. Rather than buy it again, I decided to try my hand at making my own, healthier version, which I won’t be as tempted to inhale in a few sittings (or at least if I do, I won’t feel so bad about it!). The batch I whipped up uses a short list of very basic ingredients and is super tasty, but it’s free of the excess sugar and fat that’s common in traditional granolas.

Almond Butter Granola

Almond Butter Granola

I like to eat it sprinkled on top of almond yogurt with berries or even on its own with almond milk. As an aside, can I just say how obsessed I am with Kite Hill’s new Greek-style yogurt?! Have any of you tried it? I’ve never been big into yogurt, even before I decided to mostly ditch dairy, but I did enjoy Greek yogurt, and it’s something I sometimes miss. I was so excited to find Kite Hill’s dairy-free version at Whole Foods a couple weeks ago and it did not disappoint. I can’t get enough! I only buy the plain unsweetened kind because I don’t want the added sugar in the other varieties and prefer to add my own toppings, like granola! It is seriously delicious and if you’re a fan of Greek yogurt, I highly recommend giving it a try. Now, back to the granola….

Almond Butter Granola

Almond Butter Granola

Ingredients

  • 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped or slivered almonds
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2.5 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix with your hands until the oats are evenly coated.
  • Spread out mixture on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, then remove from the oven and let cool completely. The granola will be a bit soft until it fully cools.

*Adapted from Elizabeth Rider’s Easy Healthy Homemade Granola

Let me know how you like to eat granola and whether you have any tried and true recipes!

 

Almond Butter Granola

Quinoa, Chickpea & Veggie Bowl (Gluten Free & Vegan)

Quinoa, Chickpea & Veggie Bowl

When it’s freezing out and I’m not in the mood for soup, I often turn to a warm and filling bowl of some sort for nourishment. With grain or Buddha Bowls or whatever you want to call them, there are so many options you can throw together, and pretty much anything goes. They’re the perfect combo of easy, healthy, and delicious. You really can’t go wrong!

This version I threw together includes quinoa as the base, topped with chickpeas, garlic-seasoned cruciferous veggies, and a little bit of almond parsley pesto. I mainly chose this combination because I had the ingredients on hand and needed to use them, but I also think they go very nicely together, not to mention that they pack a serious nutritional punch!

The key to this bowl is to roast the veggies to ensure the best flavor and crunch. Roasting vegetables is almost always my preferred way to cook them; it really does make such a difference in how they taste. There’s nothing I love more than a crispy batch of Brussels sprouts fresh out of the oven! Anyone else with me? Growing up I never really ate them but now I am obsessed and I’m making up for lost time! Brussels sprouts, where have you been all my life?!

As for the pesto, it was a total impulse decision at the end and I definitely don’t think it’s necessary for the dish (I had parsley that I needed to use up), but I think it takes the flavor up a notch. Since I hadn’t planned on making any kind of pesto in advance, I had to use what I had available, and that’s why the ingredients may seem a bit random. Although it was a total shot in the dark, I think the parsley-garlic-lemon combo works. If that’s not your cup of tea though, you can skip the pesto and still enjoy a delicious and satisfying bowl.

I plan on experimenting with many more plant-based bowl combinations this winter, and I’ll be sure to post whatever I love. I’m always looking for inspiration, so if you have any favorite bowl-based meals, do share!   

Quinoa, Chickpea & Veggie Bowl

Quinoa, Chickpea & Veggie Bowl

Quinoa, Chickpea & Veggie Bowl

Quinoa, Chickpea & Veggie Bowl


Ingredients

For the bowls

  • 2 cups dry quinoa
  • 8 cups broccoli florets
  • 6 cups Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • salt & pepper to taste

For the almond parsley pesto

  • 1/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup parsley
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp water
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder

Directions

For the bowls

  • Preheat the oven to 415 degrees and line two baking sheets with tin foil.
  • Chop the stems off the broccoli so that you’re left with florets. Make sure that the florets are about equal in size so that they cook evenly. Put the broccoli florets in a mixing bowl and add 1 tbsp olive oil, ½ tsp of garlic powder, and ¼ tsp onion powder. Mix with your hands until all the florets are coated.
  • Spread the broccoli florets out in a single layer on one of the baking sheets and set aside.
  • Chop the Brussels sprouts into halves or even thirds or quarters if they are very large. As with the broccoli, you want the sprouts to be relatively equal in size.
    Add the sprouts to a mixing bowl and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Mix with your hands until all the sprouts are coated.
  • Spread the Brussels sprouts out in a single layer on the second baking sheet.
  • Place both baking sheets in the oven and roast for about 25-30 minutes, until the veggies are tender but crisp. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • While the veggies are roasting, cook the quinoa. Add 4 cups of water to a pot along with 2 cups of dry quinoa (check the package to see if it needs to be rinsed first). Bring water to a boil and then cover the pot and reduce the temperature to low, letting the quinoa cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the water is fully absorbed.

For the almond parsley pesto

  • Add almonds to a food processor and pulse until ground
  • Add the lemon juice, water and olive oil, and pulse again until mixed.
  • Add the parsley, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and salt, and pulse until evenly combined.

 

Quinoa, Chickpea & Veggie Bowl

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Mushroom & Lentil Sauce (Vegan)

Spaghetti Squash with Mushroom & Lentil Sauce

Today I’m excited to share an easy plant-based meal that’s as healthy as it is delicious. Let me start off by saying that I am in no way against traditional pasta. While it has been demonized and many people won’t touch it with a ten foot pole, I think pasta can actually make for a very nutritious meal, and I eat it often. However, there’s no denying that pasta is dense and there are times when I want something a little lighter, especially after the holidays. Enter spaghetti squash! With a mild flavor and pleasant texture, it’s the perfect canvas for a savory tomato sauce. Although it’s very low in calories (under 50 calories per cup), I find spaghetti squash to be very satisfying, particularly in the the cold winter months.

If you’re thinking that spaghetti squash is a pain to prep, I get it (it used to intimidate me and I never bought it), but I assure you it’s easy! You have three options for cooking it: One is to cut the squash in half and bake it, two is to bake the squash whole, and three is to microwave it. Obviously the easiest route is to throw it in the microwave, but I think it’s worth the additional time and effort to bake it in the oven. In terms of baking it whole vs. cut, if you have a suitable knife, I recommend cutting it in half. For a long time I never bothered and always baked it whole, but after some researching, I learned that cutting the squash allows it to caramelize a bit and results in a more “al dente” texture, whereas baking it whole essentially steams it and leaves you with a softer, wetter texture. Either way works just fine with a sauce, but I prefer firmer “noodles.” It also takes less time to cook when cut in half. The one caveat is that you need a very good, large knife, otherwise cutting through the squash will be nearly impossible. I have been there and it wasn’t pretty!

When it comes to tomato sauce, I love adding mushrooms and lentils for a hearty, healthy, and filling combo. Mushrooms are meaty and a good source of antioxidants, and lentils–packed with protein, fiber, and a range of vitamins and minerals–are a nutritional all-star. You could use dry lentils in this recipe and cook them first, but I’m all about easy, so I go with organic canned. Aside from chopping the veggies, there’s not much more to this sauce! Just throw everything in a pan and let it cook. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

So tell me, are you a fan of spaghetti squash? What are some of your favorite spaghetti squash recipes to make at home?

Raw Spaghetti SquashRaw Spaghetti SquashRoasted Spaghetti SquashCremini MushroomsSpaghetti Squash with Mushroom & Lentil Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 10-oz package cremini (aka baby bella) mushrooms
  • 1 25.5-oz jar of basic tomato sauce (I used Muir Glen’s organic tomato basil)
  • 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 14-oz can lentils
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano

 

Directions

For the squash

  1. Preheat oven to 425
  2. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and spray it with a bit of olive oil.
  3. If baking the squash whole, pierce the skin in several places and place it on the baking sheet. Bake for about 45-60 minutes, until a knife easily cuts through the skin and flesh. If the squash is very large, it may take longer to cook. Let the squash cool for a few minutes and then cut it in half lengthwise. Remove all the seeds and pulp. Use a fork to pull out spaghetti-like strands of squash.
  4. If baking the squash cut, use a large, sharp knife to cut the squash in half lengthwise. If you make shallow cuts along the area you want to cut, the knife should go in a little easier. Scoop out the seeds and pulp. Rub a little olive oil onto each of the squash halves and then place them cut-side-down on the tin foil.
    Bake for about 30 minutes, until a knife easily cuts through the skin and flesh. If the squash is very large, it may take longer to cook. This is optional, but I like to turn the squash halves over and let them bake facing up for a few minutes, to crisp up the flesh a little more. Let the squash cool for a few minutes. Use a fork to pull out spaghetti-like strands of squash.

For the sauce

  1. Lightly coat a saucepan with olive oil
  2. Chop the garlic and onion and add to the pan, cooking on medium-low for about five minutes, stirring occasionally
  3. Chop the mushrooms and add them to the pan and stir. Let the vegetables cook for another few minutes.
  4. Add the jar of tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, lentils, and spices, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
  5. Top spaghetti squash with sauce.

 

Spaghetti Squash Mushroom Lentil

Simple Vegan Cornbread

Vegan Cornbread

Hi there! I hope my fellow East Coasters are staying warm and safe in the big snowstorm. What a winter we’ve had already and it’s only the beginning of January! Yikes. Anyway, I wanted to follow up yesterday’s chili post with a recipe for cornbread since the two so often go hand in hand. I was planning to include the cornbread recipe along with the chili, but the first version I made was just not up to snuff and I wanted to tweak it before sharing. In my first attempt, I tried going the no oil route and used apple sauce in its place. While this swap works in many recipes, like brownies, it did not work for this cornbread. It turned out waaay too dry and crumbly. I also used too large of a pan (13×9), which resulted in slices that were a bit too thin for my liking. For my second attempt, I used coconut oil and a smaller 9×9 pan, and the result was just what I was going for–moist, hearty, and delicious!

Vegan CornbreadVegan Cornbread

Most cornbread recipes, like the original recipe I used as inspiration, call for cornmeal and regular wheat flour, but I opted for oat flour instead of the wheat to keep the cornbread gluten free. You could go either way.  I topped it with a pat of Earth Balance (admittedly not as large as in these photos) but a vegan maple butter would be even better! Like the majority of things I make, this is super easy to whip up and won’t leave you with a stack of dishes to wash at the end. I hope you try it and enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix the almond milk and apple cider vinegar together in a bowl and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the cornmeal, oat flour, baking powder, and salt together.
  4. Warm the coconut oil in the microwave (or on the stove) until it’s melted. Add the coconut oil and maple syrup to almond milk/vinegar mix and stir well.
  5. Add the oil mixture to the dry mixture and stir until well mixed. Pour the batter into a greased (I used coconut oil) 9×9 pan and bake for about 45-55 minutes, until bread is firm. 
    *Adapted from Isa Chandra’s Vegan Cornbread

Note: To store this, make sure to use an airtight container or wrap it extremely well. I simply put a piece of tinfoil over the leftovers kind of haphazardly and it dried out pretty quickly. Don’t be lazy like I was!

 

Simple Vegan Cornbread