Friday, June 23, 2017

Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower with Dairy Free Ranch

Everyone needs a fun and easy app recipe in their back pocket when it comes to summer gatherings and picnic parties and such. I love the vibrant color and flavors of this dish and is a crowd-pleaser among most foodies :)

This recipe was inspired by Against All Grain's buffalo chicken wings and dairy free ranch. But I wanted to make a few substitutions- one of them being to make the "wings" out of cauliflower and not chicken :) And the other way using a vegan mayo so that it didn't have any eggs in it, so my following recipes reflect those options.
I made this appetizer for a gathering recently and explained how simply I made it because because I used a few already prepared sauces and spreads to make it easy. If I have some extra time up my sleeve in a month or so when eggplant and peppers come into season- I am going to make a spread of my own out of roasted eggplant and peppers. But the Trader Joe's spread is a great option and is made with clean ingredients and easy to use in a variety of ways. Check it out!
 
Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower Recipe
{gluten, dairy, egg, seed, nut, soy and refined-sugar-free}

1 large head of fresh cauliflower washed, and chopped up in easy to pick up pieces
1/3 cup of avocado (or olive) oil
1/2 cup of Trader Joe's Red Pepper Spread with eggplant and garlic
1 TB of apple cider vinegar
1 TB of maple syrup or honey
1 lemon squeezed and drizzled over
1/2 ts. of ground paprika
1/2 ts. of dried granulated garlic
1 ts. of sea salt
black pepper to taste

optional to make it spicy hot:
1 TB Arizona Pepper's Organic Harvest Hot Sauce 

Wash and chop the cauliflower and let it dry weel. Then in a large bowl mix the rest of the ingredeitns with the cauliflower and make sure each piece is spread well with the mixture. Then spread out each piece of cauliflower on a parchment papered baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes until the pieces get a bit soft and crispy. Let cool for 5-10 minutes and put on your serving dish ready to serve. Serve with hot sauce on the side and fresh celery sticks and some of the dairy-free ranch dip below....


Dairy-Free Ranch Dressing or Dip Recipe
{gluten, dairy, egg, soy, nut, seed, and refined -sugar-free}

1 cup Hampton Creek Just Mayo
1/2 cup coconut milk beverage
1/2 cup of fresh parsley leaves
1/2 ts. of dried chives (you can use fresh (1 TB) if you got it)
1/2 ts. of dried dill (you can use fresh (1 TB) if you got it)
1 ts. of dried Italian herb blend
1/2 -1 ts. of sea salt
1/4- 1/2 ts. of crack black pepper
1 ts. of dried garlic
1/2 ts. of dried onion
1 lemon juiced (1/4 cup) add some of the zest if you want


In a high powered blender, mix up the above ingredients for a few pulses, being carful to not overly blend so that the parley stays just finely chopped. Pour into a Ball jar and have it ready to dip veggies, cauliflower wings, and pour over salads. 

There you have it- I hope you give it a try if you are looking for a new fun appetizer!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Chocolate Date Avocado Pudding

Chocolatey....creamy...custard....rich...melt-in-your-mouth...delicacy... so many ways to try and describe such wonderfulness. This one's a goodie! A special easy peasy chocolate pudding delight! It is actually a play on my Freezer Fudge Recipe with the added secret ingredient of avocado! Yes. Avocado. The little soft green and creamy fruit that adds so much creamy texture packed full of minerals, vitamins, healthy fats and nutrition. It may surprise you if I told you later that the ingredients are ones to love and nourish you. But then again... who needs much pushing to eat amazing avocado....
I love cutting into a soft avocado and make beautiful things happen... toppings to a salad, guacamole, and now...pudding?!? Yes yes yes- it is true- chocolate avocado pudding sweetened with dates and perfect for a warm summer's eve. You guys- if you are trying to get your kids to eat their dinner and promise chocolate pudding as a dessert- you can secretly smile inside knowing you will be treating them with more nutritional goodness :)
Chocolate Date Avocado Pudding Recipe
{gluten, dairy, egg, nut, seed, and refined sugars-free} 

1 1/2 cup of date paste puree (I make this by soaking pitted dates with boiling water...equal parts and then blending them in a high powered blender to create a creamy caramelly paste or puree and you can use it in baked goods, oatmeal, and fudge. It can keep in a jar in the fridge for weeks after blending....)
date paste puree
1/3 cup of cacao or cocoa powder
1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand)
1/3 cup of soft organic virgin coconut oil
1/2 ts. of quality sea salt
1 lime freshly squeezed
2 small or 1 large ripe and soft avocado (1 cup worth)
2 TB of pure maple syrup

optional additions: splash of pure vanilla or some pure vanilla bean


In a small saucepan on LOW heat, let the coconut oil, cocoa powder, and choclate chips get soft and melty then then pour those into a food processor or high powered blender with the date puree, avocado and the rest of the ingredients. Blend on high for 1 minute until soft, fluffy and creamy and ready to serve. You can serve right from being blended topping with coconut whipped cream, fresh fruit or lick the container clean- I don't judge! If you pour into little 4 ounce glasses you can get 4-6 servings. Also, if you want to chill the pudding you can but if you do more than 30 minutes it will turn into more of a stiff custardy chocolate ganache- which is also fabulous but just remember that if you want more of the soft and creamy texture. Both ways are great!

You can easily sub out the cocoa powder for carob powder if you cannot eat cocoa right now. You can also easily sub out the mini chocolate chips if you cannot do chocolate/sugar and just sub in a nut/seed butter or even just as it is. It still will be absolutely fabulous this way too!

You can also pour this pudding mixture into a already made pie crust.... I will post that recipe soon ;) and make a chocolate pudding pie! Sooooo, as you can see you can play arond with this simepl recipe a bit and make something great!

Hope you give it a try, MUCH LOVE and happy summer solstice!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Pineapple Kale Lime Smoothie

Well it's been about a month now since I got a Vitamix and it's been a pretty great month of smoothies. My quote for this one off of my instagram was "those that 'green' together stay together" and me and my hubs have been enjoying the green together and I would have to say from personal experience that our love goes strong...:)

My favorite one is continually this green smoothie combo of frozen pineapple, kale and LIME. It makes it so fresh and sweet and great every damn time! So in effort to share with you my most favorite combo {for now ;)} I tried to write down estimates so that you can create it for yourself. And here's what I got...

Pineapple Kale Lime Smoothie Recipe
{gluten, dairy, nut, seed, egg, sugar-free, vegan}

1-2 cups of frozen pineapple
1-2 frozen bananas 
1/2 cup of date paste puree or you can put in 4 whole pitted dates too
1 small organic lime, washed and diced
1-2 cups of pineapple juice
1-2 cups of coconut milk beverage
2-3 cups of washed and roughly chopped FRESH kale
optional addition: protein powder of choice 
(my fav is pure rice protein and no fillers )

Blend in a high powered blender... this serves our family of four actually, but could be for 2 grown adults with big kid cups too :)
I have been enjoying this combo for breakfast this week and I've been waiting for it to get old and it hasn't yet- so until that happens I will be enjoying this combo on the back deck in the sunshine... :)

Hope you are well and finding balance this week.
Much love as always, xoxo

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Fresh Herb Garden Pasta Salad

This is a salad I start making almost every summer about this time. The fresh herbs and produce you can find at the farmer's market is a part the inspiration- not to mention an easy dish to pass at a gathering, pack up for a picnic, and serve from the fridge when it's super hot and sweaty.

It's not overly difficult and you can switch out different veggies for what you got available. It is a great "detox" summer meal because of the fresh herbs and veggies and with the GF pasta it is a great allergy-free option as well. Also, it can easily be vegan- but if you want to add some parmesean or motzarella cheese it would be that much more fabulous too. I have also added organic chicken sausages and those not only had flavor but added protein too. So it can be made a few ways, but if you make it the fresh herbs in the dressing is what makes the difference in my opinion. The dressing is super fresh, green and wonderful!

Hope you give this super easy and fabulous summer salad a try!
Much love and light to you xoxo

Fresh Herb Garden Pasta Salad Recipe
{gluten, dairy, egg, nut, seed and sugar-free}

1 cup of cherry tomatoes halved
1 cup of chopped sweet bell peppers
1 cup of sliced and quartered cucumbers
1/2 cup of thinly sliced and cubed radishes
1/4-1/3 cup of thinkly sliced and chunked red onion

1 12 ounce package of GF pasta (my favs include brown rice, or a rice and quinoa mix option. I avoid the GF pastas with corn because of digestion issues and they get too mushyin my opinion)

Herb Pesto Dressing Recipe
1 cup of fresh parsley
1 cup of fresh cilantro
(if you got other fresh herbs growing I sometimes add a handful of fresh basil, chives, oregano or thyme too...)
1/3 cup of quality California olive oil
1/3 cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
lemon zest from squeezed lemon
1-2 ts. of dried italian herb blend
1 ts. of dried garlic
pinch of dried onion
big pinch sea salt and black pepper
optional: add in a drizzle of honey or maple syrup before blending

Blend all of the above in a high powered blender to emosify and be a creamy green dressing. I sometimes double or triple this recipe above and make it available in the fridge to marinate meat, pour over salads and just have available to flavor rice, quinoa, or whatever other summer salad you got going. It's an added treat to just about anything savory!

Cook your GF pasta in boiling water and drain when it is AL DENTE! Then rise with a little cool water and pour into a large bowl with all the added veggies (and sausage if you are adding that) and then mix well together with the dressing and viola you got yourself a salad! If you are adding any cheeses or extra chopped herbs do that after it is all mixed well. Serve warm, or chilled, or however you damn please ;)

Hope you are well and enjoying the season of summer! Much love xoxo

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Fruit-Tea-Lemon Slush

We've had a few days of intense heat and humidity here in my neck of the woods. And even with the heat we've been spending long days of cleaning up the yard, playing at the park and splash pad and even enjoying our Lake Michigan beaches.  It's not even "official" summer yet- summer solstice begins next week- YAY!

It's hot out there though! And we have been trying to keep hydrated with water, herbal tea concoctions, fruit and now that I have a Vitamix- smoothies, popscicles, ice cream, and slushies ;)
This is really just a "smoothie" but it totally tasted like an old timey fruity slushie to me. I love the added lemons and dates for staying hydrated and tart sweetness too. It cooled me right down after a long day of outdoors work and it was just right thing when I had no appetite for dinner after a long day in the heat. This is a very 'loose' recipe. The main parts that got blended that I think are great are the hibiscus tea, lemon or lime and berries- oh and the dates ;) But truly you can easily add or take away- I just super loved this combo and have already made it two more times since the first.  Hope you are finding ways to stay cool and yet also enjoying the first days of summer heat. Much love and ENJOY xoxo
Fruit-Tea-Lemon Slush Recipe
{free of gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, and sugar, vegan and paleo too ;)
made best in a high powered blender like a Vitamix or others out there...

1 cup of hibiscus tea or (Tazo Passion Tea already brewed) In the summer months, I brew 6-8 bags of this tea in a 2 quart Ball jar and keep it in the fridge and whenever I am needing to stay hydrated and sick of water this is my favorite go-to iced tea mix with a slice of lime. Hmmm, almost could be dessert :)

1 cup of coconut milk beverage or other plant milk of choice

1 frozen banana

2 cups of frozen berries/cherries (I did a mix of blueberries, cherries, and strawberries)

1/4 cup of leftover date puree (or 2-3 whole pitted dates)

1-2 slices of washed organic lemon (lime would be amazing too )

Put all of the above in a high powered blender and it should turn into a slushy within a minute. The vitamix makes everything so creamy and smooth- If I sound like I am gushing- I still am ;) The above ingredients measure out to 1 large cup for 1 or easily split between 2- you can play around with the measurements tho to make enough less or more and also depending on some of your favorite flavors and options. 
Perfect treat to the end of the hot day. Sometimes in the heat I have no motivatiom or appetite to cook or make a heated mess in the kitchen, so this was an easy way to ease into the hot evening. Then after getting hydrated you might have more of an appetite for something more. Hope you are well and much love xoxo

Monday, June 5, 2017

Five Ingredient Freezer Fudge

You guys- this is one of my most favorite discoveries... freezer fudge! It was something I had in my head when I couldn't sleep a few nights ago. It was mulling around in there. I was cooking again for a bunch of beautiful and brave women for a holistic health retreat and I had some extra ingredients on hand...date paste, cacao, coconut oil and some mini chocolate chips :) and you wouldn't believe it, but this combo melted and mixed together and frozen turns into FUDGE! You don't need much...just a square really, but you end up eating 2...or 3... and they are so good I wouldn't think twice about it :)
These might even be much better because of the coming summer heat that is upon us and to have a little chilled chocolate goodness melting in your mouth just seems that much more wonderful. We have traded the warm and comforting desserts for the chilled decadent bite to savor deeply. I love little treats like this because it ain't no crazy elaborate thing. just a square of fudge that leaves you speechless.
Five Ingredient Freezer Fudge Recipe
{gluten, grain, dairy, egg, soy, nut, and seed-free, also vegan and paleo}

1 - 1 1/2 cup of date paste puree (I make this by soaking pitted dates with boiling water...equal parts and then blending them in a high powered blender to create a creamy caramelly paste or puree and you can use it in baked goods, oatmeal, and fudge. It can keep in a jar in the fridge for weeks after blending....)
date paste puree
1/2 cup of cacao or cocoa powder
1/2 cup of mini chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand)
1/2 cup of organic virgin coconut oil
1/2 ts. of quality sea salt or sprinkle course sea salt ontop

Put all of the above ingredients in a small saucepan and melt and whisk together. Then pour into a parchment covered 9x9 pan or a 8x10 pan and spread smooth and put in the freezer for 2 hours and then cut into 2x2 squares. Keep in the fridge or freezer. If you leave out on the counter or outside it will melt again and turn into a fudge smoothie :)

I hope you give this one a try- it's too good not to. ENJOY and MUCH LOVE xoxo

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Quinoa Stirfry Pilaf

I made this quinoa dish on a whim last weekend, and loved it so much I thought it deserved a blog post. If you are not used to making quinoa then this may be a good starter recipe or at the least will show you you can use what veggies you have laying around to make something special with quinoa. It is a great dish to pass at gatherings and not to mention packed with protein, vitamins and minerals so a great addition to the diet if you are avoiding animal proteins for allergies or other reasons.

I added in carrots, broccoli, and kale, but you could easily add in some zucchini, peppers or spinach depending on what you got. The fresh chopped cilantro is a great topper, but if you want to add some crushed peanuts, scrambled eggs, or even add in the additional meat protein you have yourself a main dish. Quinoa is great this time of year because it is not an overly heavy grain and mixes so well with fresh or cooked veggies from the garden or farmer's market. It also is great warm, but also great cooled off or packed for a picnic. When spring and summer roll around I find much more inspiration for quinoa dishes in my life and this is just one of them :) Happy cooking and much inspiration as you take the steps for hope and healing in your life.
Quinoa Stirfry Pilaf 
with Carrots, Broccoli, Raisins, and Cilantro Recipe
{gluten, dairy, egg, soy, nut and seed-free, vegan}

2 small sweet onions finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic finely minced
1 TB of finely grated fresh ginger
1 cup of finely chopped kale
2-3 TB of olive or avocado oil

2 cups of dry quinoa
4 cups of water (or 2 cups veggie broth, 2 cups water for more flavors)
1/3 cup of coconut aminoes (you can use tamari, aminos or soy sauce here too if soy is not an issue)
1 cup of shredded carrot
1 ts. of sea salt (more or less depending on taste preference)
1/4-1/2 ts. of black pepper
1/2 cup of organic raisins
1-2 cups of fresh or frozen broccoli pieces
1-2 extra cup of veggies: peas, zucchini, peppers, or green beans

1 cup of freshly chopped cilantro for topping
can also top with toasted almonds, cashews or peanuts in you prefer

In my humble opinion, the best way to make a quinoa pilaf is starting by sauteing the onion, garlic and spices in oil first then add in the dry quinoa and saute that for a few minutes and then add in the water/broth and wet ingredients if there is some. Then in this dish once you do that you can cook on medium heat until it comes to a boil, then turn on low and add in the rest of the veggies, and cover and cook until the water is gone. Then turn off the heat completely and let sit for 15-20 minutes, then open the cover and fluff it and pour it into a serving bowl- this is when you can top with fresh cilantro or other favorite toppings. It is that simple. If you want to add in some scrambled eggs or grilled chicken to the final dish then by all means :)

Hope you give this simple dish a try to see how you like it, and maybe inspire your own quinoa creations depending what you got on hand in the pantry and fridge and what you can forage from the garden or market. Happy creating and much love, xoxo

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Basil Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

Sooooooo, it's been a dream 10 years in the making, but I finally can say I am a proud owner of a Vitamix. It came last week. I opened the giant box, unwrapped each piece and almost had tears in my eyes. Like a kid on Christmas morning. I have waited so long for one of these. I had been saving and it always seemed like I found another reason to spend the money, but the time had finally come.

It feels magical. Like I manifested some kind of magic in the world to make this dream finally come true. Makes me feel like I should start writing down and manifesting other dreams and ideas I feel that are way out of reach at this point. The feeling of waiting for something, dreaming about something, and seeing it through is incredible.

Also, if you were wondering if dreams do come true- sometimes... they really do ;)
So far so good- I have made a handful of smoothie creations, ground up many GF flours, and made some ice cream :) To say the least this Vitamix has found a place in our happy home and I cannot believe it took so long to get her.

Last week I made this ice cream combo because of a fresh basil plant on had on hand and was inspired to try a little basil in my ice cream. I know... it was much more green on the front end but maybe not so much in the pictures. You can add more or less of the basil if you desire a more or less green color and herby flavor. You can also do this recipe in a regular blender or even if you have an immersion blender. I just have been excited to try out some of these ideas in my new Vitamix- so I'm sorry for gushing :)
Basil Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Recipe
gluten, dairy, soy, nut, seed and egg-free, vegan  

2 cans of canned coconut milk, just scoop out the cream and save or discard the water
1/4 ts. of sea salt
squeeze of fresh lime (1 TB)
1/3 cup of maple syrup
2 TB of tapioca flour/starch
1/4- 1/2 ts. of peppermint oil flavoring

Whisk all of the above ingredients in a small sauce pan over a medium heat until it is warmed and blended good. The tapioca will thicken the milk a bit once the mixture starts to heat up. Be careful not to boil, just warm and whisk together and then turn off the heat once the mixture starts to thicken. Then transfer the warm mixture to your high powered blender and add....

1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves
(more or less depending on your preference)

And then blend on high for 1 minute until frothy and then let it cool down completely and then add in the chocolate chips.... you can either just fold them in, or you can also blend for 5 seconds and have the chocolate chips get mixed in a bit. Then immediately transfer the mixture into a well covered container and transfer to the fridge for a few hours or even over night.

1/2-3/4 cup of dairy-free chocolate chips

Then after the mixture has been sitting together for more than a few hours, transfer the mixture to a ready to use ice cream maker. I own the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker and have to chill the container in my deep freezer for over 24 hours- so you have to think ahead for this version of ice cream making and make sure you have the maker's part freezing and getting ready. After all that prep, just pour the mixture into the maker and within 20-30 minutes you will have perfect ice cream. We ate some right after it was done. But I also pour the rest of the ice cream in a leftover ice cream plastic container to serve more later and it worked amazing- it was ready made, ready to scoop ice cream, ready in the freezer.

If you do not own a ice cream maker- then after blending in the high powered blender, pour into a container that can be covered and pour in and let freeze in the freezer for at least 4 hours- then you can use an ice cream scoop and form ice cream balls from yoru scoop and it is just about as perfect too. 

Best part is that it is vegan and fresh tasting and no fillers and no refined sugars- you can control the sweetness and you could even add a few dates or a banana in place of the maple syrup and before blending :) 
This delicious vegan ice cream is so decadent and fabulous- I may never make another baked dessert ;) OK we all know that is not true- but this one is a special treat- especially as summer rolls around and starting up the oven is a lot more heat and work in the summer- and with this treat- a little goes a LONG way. I hope you give it a try- and ENJOY! 

Much love as always xoxo

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Wild Rice and Mushroom Lentil Burgers

The simplicity and flavor of this simple little wild rice and lentil burgers is really amazing. How can with only a few simple ingredients you can make a big batch of goodness with such simple and wonderful flavors be so filling?  I love that this recipe is cost efficient and can be made in a batch and savored for many weeks to come from the freezer. Truly a recipe to give a try and see what you think. 
Sometimes the vegan and vegeatrian option look a bit plain, and this might look a bit plain even from the pictures. But somehow with a little healthier condiments, herbs and deep rich earthy flavors you can come up and truly enjoy the option whether you are a meat eater or not. This is not a meal in place of a beef burger- this is a burger of it's own style and flair. It truly cannot be compared because it is a fulfilling nourishing option just as it's own self. It begs to be accepted for just as it is and not to be fit into some meat comparison box. I hope you give it a try- why not, right?!? I know you will be wonderfully surprised and delighted :)
Wild Rice and Mushroom Lentil Burger Recipe
gluten, dairy, egg, soy, seed, nut and sugar-free, vegan

1 cup of chopped small portabella mushrooms
4 cloves garlic finely grated or minced
1 TB of olive oil
pinch of sea salt
pinch of black pepper
1 cup of dry wild rice
2 cups of pure water

In a small pan, saute the garlic and muchrooms in the oil with some salt and pepper until they are soft and then add in the dry wild rice and saute that together dry for 3-4 minutes and then add in the water and bring to a boil and turn down the heat to low and cook until the water is gone and because this is wild rice- it will take a bit longer- about 20-25 minutes. Once the water is gone, turn of the heat completely and cover and let it sit and cool for this is the last stage of cooking the rice and getting it soft.

At the same time the rice is cooking you can be cooking the lentils....

1 TB of olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves finely grated or minced
1 medium (about 1/2-2/3 cup) of finely chopped sweet yellow onion
2 cups of washed (or prevoously soaked) green lentils
1 ts. of sea salt
1/2 ts. of black pepper
4 cups of water

In a medium pot, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft, then add in the lentils without the water and saute for a few minutes to gain the oil and flavors. Then add in the water and cover and let cook on the medium heat. Cook on medium to low heat for 45-50 minutes until the lentils are more than cooked, but they start to get soft and mushy. Keep stirring and making sure they are able to be moved well- If you have a large ladel or spoon you can mush in the pot and try and get the lentils to be half mushed up and half whole. This isn't really important, but you for sure want your lentil mixture more mushy than hard. Then let cool for a few minutes so you can mix with the wild rice.

In a large mixing bowl add...

the cooked wild rice mushroom mixture
the cooked mushy lentils
1/2 cup of organic ketchup (or you can use crushed canned or even fresh tomatoes or tomato paste to avoid sugars)
2 TB of coconut aminoes, you you can use wheat-free tamari sauce too
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 TB of dried Italian herb blend (rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram)
1 ts. of dried basil leaves
optional: if you want to use fresh herbs, use 1/2 of the dry herbs amount and add in a handful of fresh basil or other available fresh herbs
Mix all together and let sit and cool and you can form a handful (3/4-1 cup amount) of the mixture and form it into a patty to place on a parchment papered baking sheet. This amount will and should make 12 burger patties, you you can make 1 giant lentil loaf, or 2 smaller lentil loafs too by putting parchment paper in a loaf pan and pouring the mixture into the pan. You can brush or drizzle a little extra organic ketchup on top of the patties or loaf for a little extra flavor and good looks. 
Then bake the patties in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes until crispy on the edges and still soft in the middle. The loaf can be baked for 1 hour if it is one large loaf, and about 45 minutes for 2 smaller loaves. 

Serve with a salad or side of veggies. The burger is pretty simple so that you can add a variety of side or sauted veggies to the serve with. This is a great recipe to make ahead of time and freeze the patties to warm up later for summer-time cook outs, or for a vegetarian otpion alongside other meals. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Green Apple-Kale-Avocado Slaw

It's almost time for the school year to close and official summer to commence. The coming Memorial Day weekend has people sprucing up their yards and venturing to the farmer's market looking for fresh greens and plants.  It's time to pull out the grill and have the friends and family over, and time to cook up a few great salads and grill the rest. And maybe an adventurous, but simple fresh kale slaw could catch your attention...
I was making a kale slaw I loved for years- my Tangy Kale Slaw- but then discovered a little avocado in place of some of the nuts and seeds was just the right move to try something a little different.
This is a bunch of curly kale, but you could use some lacinato kale too for this recipe. Both work great and you'll find that you like one variety over the other. Or perhaps you have some growing in the yard and if you do, you usually have TONS of it as it grows and need a little inspiration to keep up :)
I used some crunchy sweet and tart green apples in this slaw and if you cut them small and thin, they are the perfect match to the soft kale after its been rubbed with the sweet lime dressing. This recipe is ridiculously simple- so you can add or take away from it depending what is fresh that week in your garden or what you got on hand before a last minute cook-out. I hope you give it a try and seek a little green crunchy (maybe said at one point to be odd), but wonderful fresh and tasty kale slaw.
Green Apple-Kale-Avocado Slaw Recipe
gluten, dairy, egg, nut, seed and soy-free

1 (1pound) bunch of fresh kale (washed, dried and finely chopped)
2 small green tart apples, finely chopped
2 very ripe avocados, finely chopped in chunks
1/3 cup of organic raisins
1/3 cup of finely sliced red or sweet onion
1/2 cup of finely chopped fresh cilantro or basil or a combo

sweet lime dressing
2 TB olive or avocado oil
1 fresh lime squeezed (2 TB's juice)
1 TB of red wine vinegar
1 TB of Dijon mustard
1-2 TB of maple syrup
healthy pinch of salt and pepper

In a large mixing bowl, mix by hand the kale and herbs and apples and half of the avocado. In a small Ball jar, mix and shake up all of the dressing ingredients and then pour over the slaw and use your hands to massage well into the finely chopped leaves. Then top with the rest of the avocado, and raisins and optional onions. You can add more or less of the dressing if needs more and you can half or double this recipe depending on your group size.
Happy chopping, and ENJOY xoxo

Friday, May 19, 2017

Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp

This pan of messy, juicy, red delicious goodness is rhubarb strawberry crisp. It might not be the most delicate of desserts, but it's rich one-of-a-kind flavor and goodness will have you melting from the inside out in love for it. 
It is also special because I feel like it is the kind of dessert that you can only really make during rhubarb season. And rhubarb season is the ring-in-signal for the farmer's market opening and gift of all the spring produce and plants. 
This recipe I actually made with some leftover frozen strawberries from last summer, but it would be  divine in a few weeks when you can find both fresh local strawberries and rhubarb at the same time at your local farmer's market. Although a fruit crisp can be successfully and wonderfully made with frozen strawberries too :) but if for some reason you have local fresh strawberries popping up in your backyard or market- you are the luckiest :)
The deep red beauty of rhubarb and strawberries, and the combo of tart and sweet flavors is something I wait for each spring and early summer. It's like you've been holding on throughout the winter months for this precise moment. And when you finally get to see these gifts popping up from the earth- all you can do is offer thanks and truly delight in it's gift.  
Rhubarb is one of those foods that I feel like you either love because you know what to do with it, or otherwise just look at it and say, "Oh that's pretty, and people eat that?!" Rhubarb is actually full of many health benefits. Like many hidden benefits in plants, they are packed full of vitamin C and B and full of minerals, vitamins and even protein. They help promote healthy digestion and in some places of the world is used as a medicinal component to constipation. If you haven't tried rhubarb yet and always think about trying it then this recipe is for you. This is hands down my favorite way of eating it and once you give it a whirl you will wonder why it took you so long :) Happy Baking!
Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp Recipe
{gluten, dairy, soy, nut, seed, egg and refined-sugar- free}

2 cups of cleaned and chopped fresh rhubarb
1 cup of water

2 cups of frozen or fresh strawberries (whole small or larger halved)
1/3- 1/2 cup of maple syrup (or you can use a mix of honey and syrup)
pinch of sea salt
juice from one lime

2 cups of certified GF rolled oats
1/4 cup of rice flour
1/4 cup of tapioca flour
 2 TB of potato starch
* Or use 2/3 cup of your fav GF flour blend*

1/2 cup of coconut palm sugar
1/3 cup of maple syrup
1/2 cup of room temperature soft coconut oil
pinch of sea salt

In a medium sauce pan, put the fresh chopped rhubarb with 1 cup of water and let the rhubarb cook down for about 10 minutes on medium heat, it will turn into a mushy saucy mixture with not much stirring and mashing. Then add in the 3 cups of strawberries and let those get soft and juicy and add in the 1/2 cup of maple syrup. Cook for another 5 minutes but not letting the strawberries get too mushy or break down. Then pour the hot fruit mix into a 9x9 Pyrex baking pan.  Then in a small bowl, mix the dry oat and flour and sugar mixture with the coconut oil and make a crumble. Then sprinkle the crumble over the strawberries and rhubarb. Then bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 minute until the crumble is crispy and the fruit is bubbling. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving with come coconut ice cream. Or top with some yogurt for breakfast ;) 
You can make this recipe for a 9x13 pan or double it if you are making it for a crowd. The recipe for the 9x13 pan is brought up to 3 cups of rhubarb and strawberries and the crumble mixture can be made 1/3 bigger as well. So you need 3 cups of oats and 3/4 cup of flour and 2/3 cup sugar and coconut oil. It is pretty easy to make this recipe in small or larger amounts depending on how much you want to have.  
I hope you give rhubarb and this recipe a try... Super simple and so delicious this time of year!

Much love as always, and happy baking xoxo

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Banana Quinoa Muffins or Bread [LOW-FODMAP]

Last fall I had a severe episode of digestive distress. Even while eating gluten free, dairy free and eating my usual clean diet. Sometimes the digestive issues are not really about the food, but are about the stress in our lives around us. I notice digestive distress always comes out in me when I am emotionally and physically stressed. It almost feels like in my head I am saying... "I am ok" but then after a few days my body says, "nooooo, you're not!" and in that recognition I become aware of the mind body connection once again. Have you heard the expression, 'your brain is in your gut'? Well this especially becomes true to me when I am experiencing uncontrollable stress. 
Something that has helped me is to eat very simply for a few weeks and go on the FODMAP diet. I am not one to promote diets of any kind really, but I gave this regimen a try after some help from a GI specialist friend and within a few days my IBS symptoms calmed completely. I gave the diet a try for two weeks pretty strict and then started back to my usual food flow slowly the following two weeks. To be honest- it really wasn't that hard because of already eating GF but there were some foods that had certain enzymes in them that were aggravating my stressed out nervous system. Onions, garlic, honey, and apples are just some of the few foods I tend to eat a lot of or put into my cooking to add flavor. I don't consider myself "sensitive" to these foods- just see it as foods that aggravate because of their enzymes and for some reason when I am in a spiral of digestive issues I see the most success of getting out of that downward spiral by slowing down and eating just the few things that my system agrees with.... which for me includes rice (preferably basmati or jasmine), chicken, and root veggies minus beets because they are higher on the FODMAP and drink lots of ginger or peppermint tea to calm my system as well.
Well last month I had a similar digestive stressed episode and it went on for a few weeks and then I had a light bulb go off and remember how eating the FODMAP way helped calm my system down and get me back on track. So I tried it again and low and behold, within a few days I was feeling much more myself and not so stressed. So these little muffins came into creation during that time because they are simple and VERY low FODMAP foods so they are a comfort while you are going through a stressful time.
I have made this recipe more than a few times now and sometimes it ends up being made into muffins or my latest way was just right into the bread pan. I love both ways. The bread is so moist and reminiscent of a good ol' classic banana bread recipe. I love the cruch of the quinoa and the moist bite of the banana. This is my favorite go to banana bread recipe now and especially when needing a little treat in times of stress and eating more simply. This recipe is so simple and it won't dissapooint whether you are looking for a vegan GF banana bread or you are on the hint for a low FODMAP baked goody. 
Banana Quinoa Muffins (or Bread) [LOW FODMAP] Recipe
gluten, dairy, egg, honey, nut, seed and soy-free
1/2 cup of quinoa flour
2/3 cup of GF oat flour
1/3 cup of dry whole quinoa 
1/3 cup of potato starch
1/3 cup of white rice flour
1/3 cup of tapioca flour
1/3 cup of coconut palm sugar
2 ts. of baking powder (I use Hain brand for corn-free)
1 ts. of baking soda
1 ts. of sea salt
3 mashed ripe bananas (about 1 cup of bananas)
1 lemon freshly juiced (1/4 cup)
2 TB of apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup of maple syrup
2/3 cup of melted coconut oil 

Mix all the dry ingredients together first, then add in the wet ingredients and whip up together well then use a coconut oil covered scoop to scoop into muffin tins ot pour into (2) coconut-oil-greased bread baking pans. Bake the muffins in a 350 degree oven for 20-22 minutes depending on your oven, the bread will bake longer for 30-35 minutes depending on your size of pan and oven. 

I hope that you are not in need of a FODMAP baked good that is comforting to the digestive track, but if you are, this is your recipe. I hope you are well and happy baking, xoxo

Much love as always, 
Stephanie

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Hawaiian Pineapple Pepper Crockpot Chicken and Coconut Basmati Rice

So this is the kind of dinner that comes out of cleaning out my freezer space. I had leftover frozen pineapple from Easter-week, a lost lone bag of roasted red peppers and some frozen chicken. I thawed all out over night and put them in the crockpot the next morning with a few other staples to flavor and when 4-5 o'clock rolled around- dinner was ready and it was easy to feel like a queen being served dinner with no effort. Which after days of needing to cook and bake from scratch and keep up with all the food allergies, it is always a treat to have the crockpot do most of the work :) And it gets me ready after cleaning the fridge and freezer out to do a big trip of grocery shopping the next day.
I love when something is thrown together out of leftover ingredients and it turns out so great you start thinking how you would actually need to buy the actual ingredients to make it again next time. This recipe is also somehting you can find done a multitude of ways depending on your preferences. I just used what I had and made it work. Now if only I could get my kids more excited about it... they are picky about just about everything. They did give it a try though and the sweetness and rice made it worth it :) Hope you give it a try or at the least go into your freezer space and find what kind of ingredients you need to use up and clean out. Happy cooking, xoxo
Hawaiian Pineapple Pepper Crockpot Chicken Recipe
{gluten, dairy, egg, soy, nut and seed-free} 

2 lbs of thawed or raw chicken 
(use what you got or what your preference is...if I was to choose I would do a mix of white and dark meat to keep the best flavor and moisture from the chicken)

1 medium red onion thinly sliced and chopped
4 garlic cloves minced or finely grated
2 inches of fresh ginger finely grated
2 ts of sea salt (more or less)
1/2- 1 ts. of black pepper
2 cups of fresh or frozen pineapple, thawed to have at least 1/2 cup of juices
drizzle of olive or avocado oil
1/4 cup of maple syrup
1/4 cup of coconut aminos (or sub a soy-sauce or aminos-sauce)
1/4 cup of coconut palm sugar 
1/4 cup of tapioca flour

In your crock pot dump and mix all of the above ingredients and cook at the medium or low 6-8 hour time. I put the chicken in first and sprinkled in the spices and onion and stired to move all around and then added in the pineapple and peppers and made sure the suaces also got evenly mixed around too. I sprinkeld the tapioca flour last over the wet liquids and used a spoon to kinda mix in and make sure it was evenly dissolved in. Then I covered and set the heat and let it cook all day. When it was in there 6 hours it was done and the chicken could probably be easily shred up if you wanted to make tacos or fajitas out of the meat, but the chicken can be scooped out too in whole pieces and placed over the rice. 

Coconut Basmati Rice Recipe
2 TB of coconut oil
2 cups of basmati rice
3 cups of water
1 cup of coconut milk beverage
1 ts. of sea salt

In a medium saucepan, warm up some coconut oil and cook the rice in the oil for a few minutes while it gets toasted. Then add in the water and coconut milk and salt. Cook on medium to high heat until it is bubbling and then I turn the heat to low until the water is cooked in and then I turn off the heat completely and cover with a top and let it sit for 10-20 minutes for it to further the cooking process with no heat. Then I open up and fluff up and it is ready to serve. 

I topped this dish with fresh chopped cilantro, but green onions might also work. Like I said, whatever you got is what to go with ;) Some fresh lime or sea salt might be a nice finishing touch too if it needs it. 

Hope you get inspired to clean up the fridge and freezer and make something fabulous. Happy cooking and much love, xoxo