Dinnertime fail to lunchtime win

If you follow me on Facebook, you might have seen last night’s post where I shared about a total dinner fail (vegan moussaka).

My kids definitely were not thrilled with the results and I was ho-hum about it myself. My husband came home just in time for us to leave for our small group with friends so he didn’t have the pleasure of tasting it. LOL

I was not looking forward to eating the leftovers today for lunch, either, until I discovered that I had some chana masala left over from Sunday’s dinner. BINGO!

Before switching to a plant-based diet, I never would have considered combining these two dishes. I’m much more adventurous in what I eat and try now that all the animal fats aren’t clogging up my taste buds!

The flavors of the moussaka and masala work really well together in the chickpeas give it a good boost of plant-based protein. Calling it: Chana moussaka. 

What leftovers have you mixed together for a meal-time win?

5-ingredient key lime pie bites (vegan, sugar free)

One of the most frutrating things about changing your diet is relearning how to cook. The substitutes for the ingredients you used to rely on (sugar, white flour, eggs, dairy, meat etc.), don’t behave in the same way. In the first three months that I spent eating a plant-based diet, I was brought almost to tears several times because the kitchen suddenly felt like a foreign place.

Which makes the victory all the (sugar-free) sweeter when I hit on the right mix of ingredients the first time I make up a recipe. And judging by how quickly these little bites disappeared with our small group from church, I’d say these were a BIG hit.

If you have Lime Vitality Essential oil, I’d use that to give them a limey kick, but freshly squeezed lime juice will work too. They can be served naked or with a coconut coating. 

Last thing before I share the recipe…on Monday, I’m doing a clean eating challenge with a “Big Game” theme. It features a six day meal plan (including this recipe) of foods you might find at a “Big Game” party, but with a healthier twist. Comment if you’d like in on the challenge which I run through a private Facebook group (or you can request to join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1359914420746043/)


Key Lime Pie Bites 
1⁄2 cup cashews
1 c date paste
3 drops of lime vitality essential oil or 1-2 tsp of lime juice
3⁄4 c large flake, unsweetened coconut
Shredded coconut (optional)

Put all ingredients except the shredded coconut in a blender or food processor and blend until the mixture is very smooth. Roll into bite-sized balls. If desired, roll in shredded coconut. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to one week.

the perfect pot rack


We did a partial update of our kitchen a couple years ago, but still had some projects that got put on the back burner. And we still have a few things to take care of before we officially declare the kitchen “done.”

Since we actually lost some storage space with the redo, I felt like we needed a pot rack, but was looking for something cost-effective and unique.

Pinterest to the rescue! I found an idea for repurposing an old ladder as a pot rack. 


I’ve had the ladder for a while and got it either free or dirt cheap…I can’t remember exactly because it’s been that long.

The only thing it really needed was to be cut to the size we wanted, varnished, add a few hooks and hang it up. This last part is the reason it took so long. 

Since we have an almost century old home with aging plaster ceilings, my husband wanted to be confident the whole thing wouldn’t fall down or cause the plaster to crumble. His solution was to secure two parallel links of wood to the ceiling (painting them to match the ceiling color) and make sure they were firmly in the joists. That way when he bolted the hooks for the ladder in place, he knew it would be secured into a piece of wood and not just some plaster and thin lathe.


Originally, I envisioned using S hooks for the pot storage itself. However, my husband used sturdy J bolts instead (the same kind he used for hanging the ladder). I actually like this solution better since the S hooks probably would have slid back and forth as we tried to hang the pots up or retrieve them.

I think this entire project cost us less than $20, if that.  

If you don’t have a ladder (with round rungs) that you can repurpose, try getting one for free. Facebook groups, craigslist for free groups are all great resources. Then all you need are the hooks, chain and varnish. Plus scrap wood if you want to use the same approach as my husband for attaching it to the ceiling.

I love the way this project turned out. Not only does it free up storage space in our cabinets, but the ladder goes with the style of our home, it is a savvy use of materials and fills in the dead space that was above the stove. 

crockpot carrot cake oatmeal (vegan, sugar free)

This week I’m running a 6-day clean eating crockpot challenge through a private Facebook group.

The recipes for apple cinnamon and banana bread oatmeal in the meal plan got me thinking about what other kinds of desserts could be transformed into a healthy breakfast.

Carrot cake immediately came to mind.

Naturally sweetened only with fruit and containing hints of cinnamon and ginger make this oatmeal a tasty way to start the morning. And because it’s made in a crockpot, it’s already warm when you wake up.

If you are interested in learning about upcoming clean eating challenges, please leave a comment and I will contact you. 

Crockpot Carrot Cake Oatmeal
3 cups oat berries/groats
3.5 cups water
2.5 cups nondairy milk
2 large carrots, finely grated
3 large Medjool dates, roughly chopped
1/2 cup unsweetened dried coconut
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
raisins

1. Put all ingredients (except for the raisins if you prefer to add them upon serving) into the crockpot and stir.
2. Turn crockpot on low and allowed to cook for 6 to 8 hours.
3. Spoon into bowls and garnish with raisins and pour on additional non-dairy milk if desired.
4. Makes about six servings and stores well in the refrigerator for several days.

Recipe Notes
I prefer using whole oat berries (or groats) as they take a longer time for your body to break down. Which means they’re not easily been converted into simple carbohydrates. 

Although you could add the raisins directly into the crockpot, I prefer to add them upon serving. 

fridge, freezer and pantry apps

How many times have you gone to the grocery store, made your purchases and returned home only to find you already had one (or more than one!!) of those items already in your fridge, freezer or pantry?

Or stored leftovers from a meal in the freezer only to forget you had them there in the first place… until many months later when they are covered in the freezer fuzz?

I’ve been there way too many times myself and a conversation with a friend today prompted me to search for apps that can help with that.

Here are a few free apps I found that let you track what is in your fridge, freezer or pantry. I’ve included my comments on the apps as well.

Pantry Check


I like how this one has pictures to go along with the items and enables you to add your own products with pictures too. Especially key when storing leftovers. 

However, it doesn’t allow you to categorize where the item is stored: fridge, freezer or pantry.

 

Fridge Pal 


This app does allow you to categorize your items based on where they are stored. Since I have more than one fridge and freezer, this is extremely helpful. I also like that it allows you to record the price so when you are comparison shopping, it can help you save money.

If you are a visual person, however, this one does not have pictures of your items.
 

Cloud Freezer


This appears to be the more sophisticated of the three. While you can’t snapshot your items, you can take a picture of your receipt and it will list out the items for you. Then you simply indicate where it’s going to be stored along with the expiration date and other info you want to add. It includes a video tutorial on how to do this. 

If you like to comparison shop, it has a notes section for you to do that.

While the free version doesn’t allow you to indicate where things are stored if you have more than one fridge or freezer, there are two upgrade options you can purchase for $5 or less which would allow you to do this and it increases the number of items that can be stored on your lists.

One last thing…the free version only allows you to have 15 items per list, so unless you don’t eat very much, you will want the upgrades.

So tell me… have you tried any of these apps before? Are there any I should consider including on this list? Which one do you think you would try?

roasted butternut squash and sweet potato soup (vegan, sugar free)

When the temperatures are in the single digits, you need this in your bowl!

I love soups…Simple to make, easy on the budget and generous in quantity. I dreamed this one up late last year when I was thinking about Thanksgiving, seasonal vegetables and something festive.

Normally, I like soups where I can just throw everything in the pot, but roasting the ingredients for this soup was a must. Although it’s an extra step, it’s worth it…Roasting caramelizes the sugars in the veggies and fruit and adds a richness to the flavor.

And when you top it off with a swirl of full fat coconut cream and toasted cinnamon pecan sprinkles…

Second helpings, please!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup 

1 butternut squash, cubed
3 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
3 garlic cloves
1 onion, sliced roughly
1 apple, cored and sliced roughly
1 cup unsalted vegetable stock
4-5 cups water
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp thyme
dashes ground pepper

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Place all the veggies and the apple slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper

2. Roast at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes-1 hour or until edges begin to brown and the squash and potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork. Remove from oven.

3. Place the roasted veggies and apple slices in a large stock pot along with the vegetable stock and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 to 15 minutes.

4. Use a full immersion blender, food processor or standard blender to blend the soup mixture until smooth. If using a standard blender or food processor, you may need to do this in several batches.

5. Return to stock pot and add seasonings. Simmer on low heat for another 15 to 20 minutes.

6. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, and if desired, top with a swirl of full fat coconut cream and toasted cinnamon pecan sprinkles (recipe below)

Cinnamon Pecan Sprinkles
1/2 c pecans, toasted
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/16 tsp salt
1/2 tsp olive oil

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. be careful not to over blend or the pecans will release their oils. leftovers can be stored in an airtight jar in the cupboard or fridge.

For a simple way of toasting pecans or other nuts, see this tip.

pistachio wrapped chocolate truffles


I promised myself I would get this recipe up here today. 

Because there still is some celebrating to do and I’m guessing that many of you are about maxed out the desserts. So here’s one that seems decadent, but won’t leave you feeling sluggish or regretting that you ate it to begin with.

It’s a slight twist on my chocolate pudding mousse recipe and is quite simple to put together.

The only trouble is they disappear awfully quickly. LOL

Pistachio wrapped chocolate truffles 

1 ripe avocado
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 date paste*
the cream from 1 14.5-oz can of full fat coconut milk
1/4 cup almond butter
2 tsp vanilla
2 scoops of 100% pure stevia*
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup shelled pistachios

Instructions 

1. Chill the can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight. This ensures the cream comes together in one solid mass.
2. Carefully scoop out the cream from the coconut milk into a food processor or sturdy blender. add remaining ingredients except for the pistachios.
3. Blend until very smooth.
4. Spoon into a bowl, Cover, and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 to 4 hours.
5. Meanwhile, place the pistachios in a food processor or blender and process until crushed fine. Make sure you don’t over process or the oil’s will release and it will turn into pistachio butter. Turn into a shallow dish or onto a plate.
6. When the chocolate truffle mixture has set, using a spoon, scoop out individual bite-sized pieces placing them a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
7. Once all the chocolate mixture has been scooped out, dampen your hands with water and form each truffle into a ball.
8. Roll each truffle in the crushed pistachios, coating thoroughly, and return to the cookie sheet.
9. Place a cookie sheet in the refrigerator and chill until ready to serve.
10. Keep refrigerated as these are highly perishable. In the event you have leftovers, consume them within 2 to 3 days.

* It’s possible to buy pre-made date paste, but if you can’t find it, you can make your own. Simply soak one cup of Medjool dates in warm water for at least one hour and then blend in a food processor or blender. It’s best to buy dates with the pits still in them and then remove the pits just before using.
*Be sure to use 100% pure Stevia. I get mine at Trader Joe’s and it comes with its own scoop. Many Stevia products are mixed with sugars or other fillers. Pure Stevia has a very strong taste so you only need a little to go a long way.

jeweled sweet potatoes 


Oh my word!

Can something this decadent really be good for you and eat like dinner or dessert?

Oh, yes!

With Thanksgiving and Christmas fast approaching, I wanted to create a simple, but scrumptious, side dish recipe.

This dish is inspired by two things… cranberry sauce and sweet potato casserole. Both of these traditional holiday dishes are loaded with sugar. Combine that with the desserts that often follow, and you have a recipe for a major sugar crash.

It’s my personal mission to show that it’s possible to thoroughly enjoy what is on your plate, without regretting what you ate afterward. 

A fun way of presenting this is to keep each of the topping separate which allows your guests (or family) to customize the sweet potato to their liking. 

If you try this, come back and tell me what you think! And don’t forget to check out my Facebook  page for daily health inspiration and fun!

Jeweled Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes (1/person)
Arils (seeds) from 1 pomegranite
Cran-raspberry sauce
Cinnamon toasted pecans
Coconut whip

For the sweet potatoes, cut in half and place the flesh side down on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes-1 hour or until the sweet potatoes are thoroughly cooked. Use a spatula to loosen them from the cookie sheet.

Cran-raspberry Sauce
8 oz frozen raspberries
4 oz cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 T white grape juice concentrate

Place all ingredients in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the juice starts to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 5 to 10 minutes until the fruit breaks down. Use a potato masher to help break up the cranberries. Sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Cinnamon-toasted Pecans
1/2 c pecans
1/16 tsp salt
1/2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp cinnamon

1) Add pecans to a dry sauce pan. Toast the pecans over high heat, stirring constantly, until the nuts become fragrant. This only takes about 2 to 3 minutes. Watch carefully as that nuts can easily burn.

2) Add the toasted pecans to a food processor along with the remaining ingredients and pulse until roughly crumbled. Do you not over process or the nuts will begin to release their oils.

3) Store pecans in an airtight jar. Does not have to be refrigerated.

Coconut Whip
Cream from one 14-oz can of full fat coconut milk
1/2 scoop 100% pure stevia
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1) To make sure you get only the cream from the coconut milk, place in a refrigerator overnight.
2)Carefully scoop out the cream from the can into a bowl.
3)Add stevia and vanilla and without using a beater or fork.
4)Pour into a jar. Can be stored for several days in the fridge.

To assemble the potatoes:
Place potatoes flesh side up on a plate and spoon on the cran-raspberry sauce, pecans, coconut whip and sprinkle on the pomegranate arils.

Recipe Note
You may want to make up extra sweet potatoes for leftovers.

oatmeal raisin cookie dough bites, vegan + sugar free


First up: The winner of the Oh She Glows Everyday cookbook by Angela Liddon was Quinn. Aaaand, I just got word that she received it today!

Now something for everyone…this recipe for oatmeal raisin cookie dough bites. I think it was actually one of Angela’s cookie recipes that I was trying a few years ago, when I discovered how toasted pecans have the same buttery butterscotch flavor as oatmeal raisin cookies (ORC). In a traditional ORC, it’s the brown sugar and butter that give it that homey flavor.
I love finding simple, easy and no-sugar ways to make tasty desserts and snacks and this one checks off each of those boxes. Plus it has been kid- and crowd-approved.

So without further ado, here you go:

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Dough Bites

2 c. pecans, toasted*
1 c. date paste
1 1/4 c. rolled oats, organic if possible
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 c. shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 c. raisins

Place pecans in a food processor  and blend until nuts are crumbly. Add remaining ingredients, except the raisins, and blend until well combined and the “dough” holds together when pressed between your fingers. Pour into a mixing bowl, add raisins and “knead” in with your hands (it’s easier than a spoon ;)). Form dough into balls that are about 1″ in diameter. Can be stored in an airtight container for several days.

Recipe Notes

This recipe can be cut in half for a smaller amount or for only 1-2 people. If you have a larger family or a crowd, I suggest keeping the ingredient amounts as is.

*See this post for a quick and easy way to toast nuts.

 

 

 

 

curried quinoa salad + cookbook giveaway

First up…tomorrow will be the last day you can enter the giveaway for the Oh She Glows Everyday cookbook. Click this link to see the original post. Please share it with other plant-based eaters too…or maybe people you’re hoping to win over.

And as promised, another recipe for you.

This one is inspired by a recipe I found at Whole Foods Market. I substituted in quinoa for the couscous the recipe originally called for plus made a few little tweaks. Quinoa in a complete plant protein so this substitution bumps up the nutrition profile of this salad.

It’s extremely easy to put together (except for maybe shredding the carrots if you do so by hand) and can be eaten as a side, main meal and brought to share at a pot luck. I find that quinoa doesn’t do too well after several days in the fridge, so be sure to eat this within one to two days of making it.

Remember too, that I post several times a day over on my FB like page…nutrition and fitness tips, motivation and more! I would love to see you over there too…be sure to leave a comment and say hello.

Curried Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

1 T curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 c. raisins
1 c. uncooked quinoa, thoroughly rinsed
2 carrots, shredded
½ onion, minced
1 c. frozen peas, thawed
1/2 c. minced fresh cilantro
1/2 c. shredded unsweetened coconut, toasted

Instructions

Add curry powder and salt to water and cook quinoa according to package directions. Cool and fluff with a fork. Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine.